Main | Friday, January 15, 2010

Text Donations Raise $10M For Haiti

The ease of making text message donations to relief agencies in Haiti has raised $10M already and that amount is mushrooming by the minute. This is first time that cell phone donations have been used to this degree, enabled by recent agreements from carriers to pass along the funds without taking a cut for themselves.
The American Red Cross said that of the $37 million it has raised for Haitian relief efforts, more than $8 million has come via mobile phone users. "It's unprecedented that we've received this amount," said Nadia Pontif, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross. The giving is also being fueled by the popularity of websites like Facebook, where users are urging one another to make donations easily using cellphones. Wireless carriers Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc (T.N), Sprint (S.N) and T-Mobile USA have waived fees for customers wishing to send mobile donations. Carriers are also letting users know they are not taking a cut of the donations. "There are no text messaging fees and 100 percent of the $10 donation goes to the American Red Cross," Verizon said in a statement. Manis said Mobile Giving is working with wireless carriers to decrease the lag time between when a cellphone user makes a donation and when the funds arrive at a charity. Donations can take 90 days to be delivered to a charity. "Every carrier is working through a solution to push those funds out faster," Manis said.
Non-emergency charities such as arts foundations and environmental groups are watching this phenomenon closely and making plans to enable their patrons to make cell phone donations as well. However they probably won't get the same free ride from phone carriers.

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