As this week's news of the horrendous Haiti earthquake unfolded it solidified the fact that social media has become an invaluable tool for keeping the lines of communication open between people around the world especially when hit with a natural disaster such as this. The Internet, social media and mobile have helped to bring people emotionally and visually closer to this event like never before which resulted in a huge outpouring of financial support.
Making a donation to the Haiti relief funds has never been easier through text messages, Twitter posts, blogs and social networks, such as Facebook. Microsoft, Yahoo and Google also donated resource as well.
Texting donations emerged as the quickest and easiest way to donate money. We all have gotten emails or seen tweets urging us to donate money to support the relief effort in Haiti. The American Red Cross has been working with mobile donation company mGive and said on Monday that it has received $22 million in donations via text messages. All you need to do is simply text “Haiti” to short code 90999, and a $10 donation to the group’s Haitian relief fund gets added to your next mobile phone bill.
So does this response show that we now have a new comfort with making financial transactions via mobile devices? Donating money through SMS may be the way fund-raising is done from now on. Events may now include a simple short code in which various causes can be tied to. Just think of the upcoming Olympics games and how teams may be able to raise funds by just including a short code. The possibilities are endless.
Of course in order for this to be successful it means getting all the carriers to waive their messaging fees for donation texts. This is not like American Idol or Deal or No Deal where there was money to be made from the SMS traffic. A group called the Mobile Giving Foundation coordinated all the mobile money-raising for the Haitian relief fund with the four major U.S. carriers, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. So it's not that easy of a solution.
I also just wanted to mention that Wegmans grocery stores, which is locally headquartered here in Rochester, NY, had announced on Monday that it collected $564,000 from customers and employees from all of their 75 stores that will go to the American Red Cross International Response Fund Haiti Relief. The program began last Thursday and will run through this Saturday. Cashiers just ask all customers when they check out if they would like to donate any amount and it simply gets added to their grocery bill. Wegmans is a very generous company and has done this for local charities before so it was great that they put this program in place so quickly.
So now we watch and listen to learn how quickly all these donations will actually get to the people of Haiti in order for the healing to begin. It will be a long, hard road. But at least we now have the Internet and social media to keep the communications going.