Old-fashioned television telethons can stretch on for hours. But the latest charity appeal is short enough for Twitter: “Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief.”
In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, many Americans are reaching for their cellphones to make a donation via text message. And plenty of them are then spreading the word to others on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
The American Red Cross, which is working with a mobile donations firm called mGive, said Thursday that it had raised more than $5 million this way.
“There is an enormous outpouring for this effort,” said Wendy Harman, social media manager at the Red Cross. “It’s such an easy way to give and pass around through social sites on the Web.”
The mobile donations are part of a larger surge of money flowing to the relief effort. The Red Cross said it had collected nearly $35 million as of Thursday night, surpassing the amounts it received in the same time period after Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Companies also lent a hand: Google pledged $1 million to Unicef and other charitable organizations, while Microsoft promised $1.25 million in cash and donations as well as technical support for relief groups in Haiti.
“When something like this happens, it’s incredibly frustrating because there isn’t much that we can do,” said Laura Fitton, a media consultant who has raised money for charity on Twitter. “It helps to be able to at least make a gesture, and that is what is catching on.”
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