Wal-Mart is the largest American donor so far, giving $1.2 million to the Red Cross, according to data compiled by the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
Google, the UPS Foundation, and Lowe's have each offered $1 million. Even companies subsisting on or recently supported by government loans have contributed, including General Motors and Wells Fargo at $100,000 apiece.
A spokesman for GM, which recently made its way through a rapid bankruptcy proceeding and is still paying back government loans, says the group has a long history of making donations in emergency situations.
"We’re making our way back. We’ve said we’ll repay the loans by the middle of the year," says Alan Adler, GM spokesman. "We’re running a business, and part of being a business is being a good citizen."
GM's international philanthropy group Global Aid has made $15 million in donations since its inception in 2000, including $3.2 million and 50 vehicles in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia and $3.8 million and 150 vehicles in support of relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
Wal-Mart, particularly, is no stranger to large charitable donations in times of need. The group gave $3 million to aid work after the 2008 earthquakes in China and $18 million and 2,450 truckloads of supplies to those affected by hurricane Katrina.
By comparison, the governments of Australia and Denmark offered just under $9 million and $2 million in humanitarian aid donations, respectively. Most governments that have contributed to the relief effort have offered the services of search-and-rescue teams or other on-the-ground help.
DigiCel, a top Caribbean telecommunications provider, is the largest corporate donor to date at $5 million.