Among philanthropists, one of the most interesting ideas to come out of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti was the ease with which regular civilians could donate funds via a simple text message from their phone. By the middle of February, the Red Cross alone had raised more than $30 million through text donations, more than 10 percent of the total funds raised. As the Harvard Business Review noted at the time, person-to-person donations are a revolution that will “change philanthropy much the same way it has changed other industries like music and media.”
Two years later, through southern tornadoes, Chilean and Chinese quakes and other disasters, texting is now a major player in disaster relief, both in gathering real-time data about needs on the ground and also for those who want to make nearly instant donations to causes that resonate.
After Hurricane Sandy left some 110 people dead in the U.S. after killing 69 in the Caribbean, causing what is being estimated to reach $20 billion in damage to buildings and infrastructure here in the states, donations by text are in full swing. Social networks offered a lifeline – or at least an outlet – for people to reach out or just let relatives know they were safe as power went out and winds howled. For anyone who read mobile Facebook posts or tweets from friends or loved ones powering down their phones as the power went out, it’s difficult not to feel a personal connection to the storm. Here are some ways to send instant help:
The Red Cross: Donations provide food, shelter and other assistance. To give $10 to the effort, text “Redcross” to 90999.
The Salvation Army: Shelters and feeding units across the disaster zone are being operated by the Salvation Army, and you can donate $10 help provide food, clothing and beds by texting “STORM” to 80888.
Operation USA: This organization is helping the Hurricane Sandy relief effort in Haiti and Cuba, where 69 people were killed. You can text donations in $10 increments to “AID” at 50555.
Have you ever texted a donation to a relief organization? Would you ever consider doing so in the wake of recent events?