Posted by: Mark Hawkins | January 19, 2010

charity messages

Everyone’s talking about the power of SMS text message donations in the wake of the Haiti tragedy. Rightly so. It’s a single donation medium which has scaled enormously, on an unprecedented scale and in a short space of time.

Driven first by the American Red Cross, significantly quicker to mobilise SMS short code donations than their UK counterparts, which seemed to pass responsibility over to the socially aware DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee), cash has been raked in.

Indeed the DEC’s prominence in this disaster is noteworthy from a donation point of view. Were you aware of them before the earthquake struck? I wasn’t.

When folk ask why UK mobile networks don’t automatically offer 100% outpayments for ALL registered charity giving, the operative word “registered” seems to be often overlooked. Due diligence must be completed to ensure charities are eligible and HMRC registered. This doesn’t happen rapidly.

It can be planned well in advance for high profile BBC charities such Children In Need and Comic Relief, but reacting quickly to disasters is challenging, especially when there are any number of intermediary Aggregators and Service Providers competing to provide the wireless connectivity.

They get there in the end though.

We’ve never seen SMS donating used on such a scale, and certainly never as transatlantically synchronised in the end goal. Many will have used the SMS and digital methods to donate for the very first time.

My question then: is it really as much a coming of age of the donation technologies themselves – when we knew they could do all this for some time – or is it more a feat of rapid information sharing? Telling everyone we possibly could that this was available and they could do it right now, with their phone, easily, straight away?

I’ve never seen charitable calls-to-action broadcast as much on Twitter and Facebook feeds, (and my social communities aren’t THAT large). It’s a message nobody can begrudge. Doesn’t this form of viral social media sharing of the information deserve significant credit in addition to the donation technology itself? It’s significant that these messages are being seeded by your mates, as well as by broadcasters and publishers.

We should be grateful for the existence of these new payment channels, and that they haven’t broken down, as far as we know. And we can also hope that the successful mobile payment mechanisms will rub off reputationally, with many having newly garnered trust in the medium.

But we should be equally grateful for the serious critical mass of direct call-to-action messages that are being shared as far and wide as the sympathy and technology can reach.

DONATE (thanks to Mobile Active for these)

UK
Text GIVE to 70077 to donate £5 to DEC for Haiti

US
• Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross for Haiti efforts. You can donate $10 up to three times, and 100% of the donations will reach the Red Cross Foundation. This effort is run by Mobile Accord.
• Text YELE to 501501 to donate $5 to the Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation. 501501 is run by Give On the Go, a service provider for the Mobile Giving Foundation
• Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee.

Canada
Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army, again courtesy of the Mobile Giving Foundation. If you are on Rogers or Fido, you can also text HELP to 1291 to donate to Partners in Health.

Continental Europe:

• Germany: text HAITI to 81190 to donate E5 (out of which E4.83 will go to Aktion Deutschland Hilft).
• Denmark: text Katastrofe to 1231 to donate 150 kr, or call 90 56 56 56.
• 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. (From a user)
• Spain: Send a SMS with text AYUDA to number 28000. SMS cost 1.2 €.

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