Reporters' Roundtable: Charity 2.0 (podcast)

Through the text message giving program in Haiti, the Red Cross raised $26 million in just nine days. Was this a one-time outpouring of goodwill, or the beginning of a trend in global humanitarianism?

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
3 min read

This week: charity in a connected world. The January 12 earthquake and humanitarian disaster in Haiti had an important technological component: Through the text message giving program, the Red Cross raised $26 million in funds in just nine days. That's not just a large amount of money to be raised in a short time, it's an unprecedented level of participation. Was this a one-time outpouring of goodwill, or the beginning of a trend in global humanitarianism made possible by technology?

To talk about this and related issues on the Roundtable, I'm joined by Caroline McCarthy from our New York office. Caroline has been covering the online giving program for CNET. And from the Red Cross itself, we have Jonathan Aiken, director of media relations. Before joining the Red Cross, Aiken was a Washington correspondent and an anchor for CNN.

Watch this: Charity 2.0


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Reporters' Roundtable #17: Charity in a connected world

Show notes and talking points

Stats on the 90999 text message giving program. Money raised by SMS and elsewise. Pace of contributions.

Whose idea? How was it set up and started?

Is it global?

Why so successful? (See Marketplace interview with Katya Andresen.)

How quickly Red Cross is collecting the money. Stories of carriers initially not wanting to pay since they hadn't collected bills yet.

How much of a difference does this money make?

Compare to previous programs: What's changed since Katrina? (See Philantopic)

Are you able to get any metrics on the text to give donors or name capture? For example, number of new donors, etc? If not, how do you stay engaged w/ donors after the first $10?

Is this too much money all at once? Perla Ni is the CEO of GreatNonprofits.org, a review site providing reviews of nonprofits. She says on Stanford Social Innovation Review, "For Haiti, my advice is this: Set aside money now for what you would give Haiti this year and for at least the next 3 years. Give money when aid can logistically get there, when efforts get coordinated, when you can get reports on which nonprofits are doing what and which ones are actually on the ground making an impact."

Other programs to discuss, like Yele.org.

What else is the tech community doing? See:
Orphans, Crisis Mapping, and Tech Volunteers

Red Cross other ways to contribute now...other ways planned.

The icon changing thing, or the FB bra color campaign, aka "slacktivism." Why do it?

Finally, how do we double check? How can donators be assured money is going where it's supposed to? (See Charity Navigator)

Second, how to avoid out-and-out scams?

Recommended links

Big thanks to Beth Kanter, a guru of the intersection of social action and social networking. Her blog is at beth.typepad.com.

Another good blog: Philantopic

Directory of donation-by-SMS numbers on Mobile Commons, or just remember bit.ly/smsgive

Thanks to Caroline, Jonathan, and of course Lynn the producer!

Next week: The Apple slate, or whatever it is. Guests include Peter Borrows of BusinessWeek. 1pm PST Friday, Jan 29, right here. Watch my Twitter feed for updates. Send feedback to roundtable@cnet.com.