Donors favor those 'worthy' of compassion

A troubling trend
As Americans set new records for charitable giving in response to Hurricane Katrina, some fund-raisers are seeing a principle confirmed: when the sufferers are perceived as innocent victims, donors respond generously.

But giving patterns suggest that donors are losing interest in chronic problems such as poverty, in which suffering is arguably exacerbated by questionable individual choices. Private donations are shrinking for homeless shelters, AIDS-related services and programs for troubled youth, to cite just a few examples.

In religious circles and beyond, some see a troubling trend: compassion is increasingly being reserved for those who appear to have done no wrong.


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