And CNN raised $1.8 million in a telethon Monday night on "Larry King Live," with Robert Redford, Cameron Diaz, Justin Bieber, Sting and other celebrities urging donations to help families and wildlife affected by the spill.
However, a similar event this year for earthquake relief in Haiti raised $10 million.
This month, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that more than $4 million had been raised since the deadly tanker explosion in April and resulting oil leak, a fraction of the more than $6 billion donated to the Gulf of Mexico region in the year after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.
For many, the idea of shelling out for a manmade disaster is tough to swallow; some say BP should cover the damage.
"It's a challenge in terms of fundraising," said LaTosha Brown, director of the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, adding that there has been debate in philanthropic circles about whether a disaster blamed on a corporation should be the focus of private donors.