Mobile donations are making a difference in Haiti

14 01 2010

Today I donated $10 to the American Red Cross to support the catastrophe in Haiti by texting “Haiti” to 90999. It was that simple (See actual screenshot at left).

As of a tweet this morning (Jan. 14), the Red Cross has already raised $3 million dollars through this mobile donation method.

Mobile phones have already been a prominent way of reporting the event, but they also provide a powerful, scalable way to collect the necessary financial support to aid relief efforts.

According to a NY Times article, the texted donations are being handled by a company called mGive, which started the campaign in a joint effort with the State Department and the Red Cross on Jan. 12. The $10 donation I made via mGive will be charged by my carrier, AT&T, which will relay the donation in full to the American Red Cross. mGive typically charges a licensing fee for its software platform, $4 to $1,500 a month, but has removed all fees for this fundraiser.

Unfortunately, CEO Tony Aiello says it typically takes up to 90 days for the charity to receive the donation, but the mGive is trying to expedite the process with carriers to get the money to the Red Cross as soon as possible. So while it feels immediate to make the donation, the impact of the donation is felt long after hitting “Send.” Hopefully this process will continue to improve.

In another mobile fundraising campaign, Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean is urging people to donate $5 to his charity organization by texting “YELE” to 501501.

Mobile donations are getting massive support, too. The AFP reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the rounds of six morning television news shows where she urged Americans to make 10-dollar donations by cellular telephone.

“If you wish to help, you can text Haiti — H-A-I-T-I — to 90999,” she said on NBC’s Today Show.

Additionally, the White House has endorsed the mGive mobile donation as one of three key ways Americans can assist Haitians.

I am impressed by the support mobile donations have received from top US officials, and am even more impressed with how Americans have embraced mobile donations as a primary resource to provide financial aid during a crisis. I encourage you to make a mobile donation and help those in need.

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3 responses

17 01 2010
Amy Rainey

I’ve also been pretty amazed by the response to this mobile donation campaign. I donated via text the other day after reading news coverage and seeing countless tweets about it. During Hanson’s Town Hall talk last week, he talked about the term, Slacktivism. People often fan a cause on Facebook or retweet a message and feel like they’ve done their part for a cause (without actually doing much of anything). In this case, people have gone beyond that initial easy step and taken their involvement to another level (granted, the donation-via-text was an easy, simple step to take).

18 01 2010
yuhsuanchen

Thanks for the mobile donation information. After reading this week assignment, I realize there are more players behind carriers in the mobile market. They share the revenue and have a mechanism to handle the cash flow. However, I am surprised at that it would take up to 90 days for the charity to get the donation. As we know, one of the mobile values is prompt such that we can communicate with others without delay, but the donation throught mobile is slower than traditional channels. They should create a new way to efficiently transfer donation to the charity, especially in urgency.

20 01 2010
alvins456

I agree that the current usage of mobile donations is a quick and easy way to support a cause or relief fund. The is proves that the mobile phone is slowing becoming a digital wallet just as it is used for money transfers in countries like Kenya in East Africa.

Hopefully in the future it will take faster than 90 days for charity organizations to receive the funds.

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