The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday that left 11 people dead and multiple people injured revealed the worst that humanity has to offer.
But the outpouring of donations to victims’ families and related causes over the last several days have given a glimpse into some of the best.
Web traffic surged at the charity search site CharityNavigator.org while at least three GoFundMe pages sprang for families of the people killed in the shooting and responding police officers. By Wednesday, one of those GoFundMe page passed a $1 million goal. Meanwhile, Muslim groups surpassed a separate $150,000 online donation goal for victims and families.
Wallets open wide when disaster strikes, according to Larry Lieberman, chief operating officer of Charity Navigator, a platform to browse charities, which attracts about one million unique visitors every month.
“We’re an enormously generous country and Americans want to act when they feel their community members are suffering. That suffering could be a hurricane, it could be a tragic mass shooting. It could be a flood,” Lieberman said.
From Saturday to Monday, donations to approximately 30 Jewish faith-related organizations via Charity Navigator rose 1,170% compared to the week before.
From Saturday to Monday, donations to approximately 30 Jewish faith-related organizations via Charity Navigator skyrocketed 1,170% compared to the week before. The victims in the Pittsburgh shooting were targeted because they were Jewish, according to authorities.
The giving amounted to about $10,000 — a 2,880% spike from the week earlier, Lieberman noted.
Charity Navigator searches soared 4,750% for HIAS, an American nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian aid and assistance to refugees, and translated into about $4,000 donated solely through the website, Lieberman said. HIAS is the 137-year-old organization that reportedly enraged the suspected gunman Robert Bowers.
Federal prosecutors unsealed a 44-count indictment against Bowers on Wednesday. The 46-year-old’s alleged hate crime charges are eligible for capital punishment.
Miriam Feffer, HIAS’ development director, said the organization was “devastated” by the shooting and grateful for the outpouring of support afterwards. Feffer said she didn’t have a firm sense of the donation numbers, but she noted the organization has “definitely seen a significant influx of giving.”
“We look forward to building a better world together,” Feffer said.
Donations related to gun issues
Many donations are also flowing to gun-control organizations after mass shootings, like Pittsburgh.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence saw a 25% increase in gifts over the weekend, according to media director Andrew Patrick.
When a former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. killed 17 people in his own shooting spree earlier this year, Patrick said his organization saw the effects too. There was a “tenfold” increase in giving that resulted in $50,000 raised over two days, Patrick said.
“America is heartbroken once again. People want to get involved,” Patrick said. He said politicians had failed to address gun control and people turned to nonprofits to push for change.
Bowers legally obtained his AR-15 assault rifle and his three handguns, authorities said. Gun-related deaths have climbed from 2014 to 2017, according to Gun Violence Archive.
Josh Horwitz, executive director at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said shootings don’t always spur donations and involvement. School shootings seem to cut deep, he said, giving people a feeling of “We didn’t protect our kids, we want to do something.”
Groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence did not respond to requests for comment. Everytown for Gun Safety and March for our Lives also declined to comment.
Gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America also did not respond to requests for comment.
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