The Charity Olympics

After weeks of record giving, Americans want to know: Is that money helping?

Whether it was intended to help the homeless or cure cancer, donating money to charity before Sept. 11 was a form of absolution. Letters came in, people wrote checks, and they felt better. Since then, more than $1 billion has been pledged and $631 million collected to aid those affected by the terrorist attacks. In addition to being the largest in American history, the philanthropic effort also marks the first time in recent memory that Americans donated not as a way out but a way in. While estimates of those in need of direct relief range from 10,000 to 25,000, the...

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