Mobile Giving

Since Tuesday afternoon, when an earthquake struck Haiti, we have seen an amazing humanitarian effort come to life in a new form of fundraising: mobile giving. This wasn’t the first time that mobile giving was available to Americans. Following the 2004 Tsunami in South Asia, mobile giving via cellphone texts began with the formation of the Mobile Giving Foundation in Bellevue, Wash. However, the tragedy in Haiti this week catapulted mobile giving to another level.

Across America, on twitter, Facebook and news broadcasts, Americans were told to text 90999 on their cellphones and the American Red Cross would receive a donation of $10. The American Red Cross announced yesterday that it had raised a staggering $4 million dollars through texting. Following the text donation, the cellphone account will be charged. Because of the dire situation in Haiti, the charity will not have to wait the normal billing cycle to receive payment, rather they should be receiving up to 80 percent of the money immediately.

This new form of giving offers people something other kinds of giving might not. It’s effortless. No checks, credit cards or stamps. Since most Americans already carry a cell phone with them typing in a quick number to give makes it that much simpler. By the sheer numbers of people who have already donated we know that this is an effective mode of fund raising. What we don’t know yet  is whether mobile giving actually generates more donations, or simply redirects money that otherwise would have been made online or by mail.

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