I have a theory.
In times of strife when disaster strikes and all media reports show tremendous suffering and death of humans and animals, people have such a helpless feeling that they are compelled to give any money they have to anyone. I think the feeling of helplessness is soothed a bit by the act of giving of one's money, even though that money may not be going where it is intended.
Organizations of all kinds play on this very phenomenon constantly. There is something horrific happening somewhere in the world at all times. What better way to push someone's buttons than by playing the emotional card. What better way to get the emotional tap turned on but through suffering.
It is important in times of stress to keep a clear head and do your research. It is truly admirable that so many who may not have much to give themselves, manage to scrape together what they can to give to those in more serious need.
It is despicable that organizations get away with collecting exorbitant amounts of money then throwing a drop in the rain barrel of need (if you are lucky) for the cause they are collecting for.
There is a good article at AR-HR where WSB-TV did an investigation into HSUS fundraising practices. Remember, the proof is in the pudding. All organizations must provide financial breakdown that is public knowledge. It is not difficult to search or research the organizations you are tempted to give your money too.
You work hard for your money. Why line the pockets of smooth talking marketeers and activist lobbyists who are more than willing to put your money to good use. Good use that is not what you intended. Don't get me wrong, there are very reputable organizations out there. Make an informed choice before supporting any charitable organization. Ask questions and do your homework.
Another good post on this subject at Friends of Animals blog.