Times have definitely changed. Instead of sending a check or
dropping a few extra bucks in a bucket to contribute to a natural disaster
relief effort, U.S. cellphone
users are sending text message contributions. In what is being hailed as an
unprecedented mobile response to a natural disaster, U.S. cellphone users have
donated more than $11 million to Haitian earthquake relief efforts.
Wireless carriers such as Verizon Wireless
, and T-Mobile
have waived fees
for customers who want to send mobile donations. These carriers are also
assuring customers that 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.
There are a number of organizations that are accepting
donations via text message. By texting the word "Yele" to 501501 for
instance, you can donate $5 to Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. You
can also donate to the American Red Cross by texting the word "Haiti"
to a specified number, like 90999. The donation is then charged to your wireless
To date, the American Red Cross said it has received more
than $9 million in donations from more than 900,000 users. Spokeswoman Nadia
Pontif said, "It's unprecedented that we've received this amount." The
Mobile Giving Foundation said the donations have set a "mobile-giving
record" for funds raised for a single cause. According to the Mobile
Giving Foundation, more than $11 million has been donated.
Jim Manis, chief executive officer of the foundation helping
to manage cellphone donations said it can take up to 90 days for donations to
be delivered to a charity, however. Manis said Mobile Giving is working with the
wireless carriers to help decrease this lag time between when a donation is
made via cellphone and when the charity receives the funds. "Every carrier
is working through a solution to push those funds out faster," Manis said.
According to U.N. disaster experts, at least 10% of housing
in the Haitian capital was destroyed, leaving about 300,000 homeless. In some
areas of the country, 50% of buildings were destroyed or badly damaged.