- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

Traditional charities will likely have emptier pockets this year as more than $500 million is being pumped into disaster-relief funds for the victims and families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.
Hopkins House, an Alexandria-based nonprofit agency for children and their families, is being hit hard as its child care enrollment has dropped by 30 percent and donations are down by more than $30,000 for this time of the year. As a result, paychecks for the 35-member staff will be delayed by at least a week.
"Things were puttering along like usual up until Sept. 11," said J. Glenn Hopkins, president of the 62-year-old nonprofit. "Our revenue is down, and that's affecting our ability to pay the staff on time."
Even the number of people checking out the child care facility is down. Last year, Hopkins House had 14 children on a waiting list for the $165-per-week school, but this year it has more than 30 vacancies.
Mr. Hopkins said he's not sure if those people who usually give to Hopkins House are delayed in giving because they are distracted or if their discretionary income is going to disaster-relief efforts.
"People are just not focused or back on track," he said. "They are still reeling."
Charity officials are concerned that the money going to relief efforts will take away from traditional philanthropies.
"There's a risk we are going to forget about all the other problems out there," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a charity-industry watchdog.
Parkinson's Unity Walk, scheduled for Sept. 23 in New York's Central Park, was canceled after the terrorist attacks. The organizers of the walk, established to raise money to fight Parkinson's disease, are still accepting donations, but no longer have a monetary goal to reach, as they had set before the attacks.
"People who were planning to turn in money at the last minute, we've lost them," said Margot Zobel, president of the Parkinson's Unity Walk. "We'll take what we can get."
The amount of money that has gone to the numerous charities and organizations helping with disaster relief blows away any other efforts made by Americans.
"Its unprecedented," Mr. Borochoff said. "So much has been given so fast in response [to the attacks]."
Individuals and corporations have given more than $500 million to numerous charities, in a little more than two weeks after terrorists destroyed the twin towers and left a gaping hole in the Pentagon. That includes more than $200 million to the American Red Cross and more than $70 million to the Twin Towers Fund for fallen firefighters and police officers.
Many corporations have managed to round up extra dollars to contribute to relief efforts instead of taking away from the regular charitable contributions they make each year.
For instance, the GE Fund, the philanthropic arm of General Electric, is donating $10 million to families of the Sept. 11 victims and matching any employee contributions, which as of Monday had reached $1.5 million.
"It's not taking away from anything we normally do," said Joyce Hergenhan, president of GE Fund, which contributes $40 million a year to support educational programs and local communities. "Without thinking twice, we're making the additional money available."
Americans on average give 2 percent of their income to nonprofit organizations each year, Mr. Borochoff said. However, if people are sending their money to relief efforts, they may be less likely to give to their favorite charities, or be reluctant to contribute more money if a similar disaster strikes again.
"Americans need to catch their breath," Mr. Borochoff said. "We need to pace ourselves."
Some charities have even stopped asking for donations because everyone's attention is focused on disaster relief.
"The No. 1 reason people give is because they are asked," Mr. Borochoff said.
The American Lung Association decided not to postpone its annual Christmas Seal campaign, which it will begin promoting next month.
"We're proceeding with our own plans," said John L. Kirkwood, chief executive of the nonprofit organization. "I'm cautiously optimistic."
Mr. Kirkwood said he's talked to some other nonprofit groups and said they have had an increase in donations. "Giving appears to extend beyond disaster relief. It extends to our fellow man."

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