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Mobile Plays A Major Role In Haiti Relief

redcross-phone.gifAround the world, people have been touched by the devastation resulting from the earthquake in Haiti, and an outpouring of donations has resulted.

And in a growing trend, many relief organizations have setup very effective mobile donation systems to help reach a wider set of potential donors and make it easier to help the desperate people of Haiti.

Probably the largest single effort was setup for the American Red Cross. Anyone in the US can text the word “Haiti” to the special shortcode 90999 and a $10 donation will be charged to their mobile bill and sent to the Red Cross.

This system has been extremely effective, processing more than $10,000 of donations per minute during peak periods. Over the course of five days, more than 2 million people made the effort to donate, raising over $22 million for the Red Cross.

Another charity is Yele Haiti, a group founded by Wyclef Jean, the former Fugees singer who has Haitian roots. By texting the word “Yele” to 501501, consumers donate five dollars to help the quake survivors. Donors can make up to six donations through this system.

According to the charity, “somewhere in the vicinity of 350,000 dollars came in the first evening, roughly a million dollars on the second day and another million on Thursday.”

Many other charity groups are also setting up mobile donation operations, including the Clinton Foundation, the International Medical Corps, the International Rescue Committee, the Salvation Army, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision.

Jim Manis is head of the Mobile Giving Foundation, and first tested texting for a cause after the Asian tsunami in 2004. He explains why this approach is so successful.

“These are emotional events and people want to reach out and help but sometimes they can’t — they don’t have a credit card or they forget to write a check or go online to make a donation,” he said.

“The immediate nature of mobile allows for that impulse action to occur. That’s what we’re seeing with Haiti and we’re seeing it translate into new demographics and new people who are supporting emergency relief efforts.”

Mobile operators are also participating in the charitable effort. Normally it takes 2 to 3 months for a business to receive funds collected through sms payments, and the mobile operator will charge a fee of up to 30%. However, knowing that relief efforts could not wait this long and that every dollar is critical, the mobile operators in many countries have agreed to pass on 100% of the donation amount and to credit the money to the relief organization immediately.

“Time is of the essence and it makes sense for us to toss aside our normal financial processes to get money where it can do the most good, in the fastest way possible,” Verizon Wireless president Lowell McAdam said in a statement.

Donation Short Codes



A list of all short codes to text to to donate on your phone bill in the United States:

  • Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross for Haiti efforts.
  • Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to the Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation.
  • Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee.
  • Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation.
  • Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International.
  • Text HAITI to 85944 to donate $5 to the Rescue Union Mission and MedCorp International.

A list of all the non-US short codes that are serving as donation lines.

  • UK: text ‘give’ to 70077 (run by DEC)
  • Germany: text HAITI to 81190 to donate $5 (out of which $4.83 will go to Aktion Deutschland Hilft).
  • Denmark: text Katastrofe to 1231 to donate 150 kr, or call 90 56 56 56.
  • Canada: text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army, again courtesy of the Mobile Giving Foundation.
  • Italy: text to 48540 to donate to the Italian Red Cross if you are on the WIND or 3 networks. If you are on Vodacom or TIM, text 48451 to donate EUR 2 (Telecom Italia users can also call this number).
  • France: 80 222/Croix Rouge française, 80 333/Secours Populaire, et 80 444/Secours Catholique. One euro per SMS.
  • Mexico: Telcel users can text 8888, donations will go to the Carlos Slim Foundation

(note: these short code services have been contributed through various sources, and MobiAD News does not certify the charities’ fund allocations or administrative costs. More information about giving, for this and other causes, is available online from the GuideStar database on nonprofit agencies and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.)


15.01.2010    Tags: , ,
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