Tech companies pitch in for Haiti relief

Google and Microsoft give seven-figure donations, while Apple and cellular carriers are making it easy for customers to donate in the earthquake-stricken country.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
3 min read

The tech industry is opening up its wallets and its Web sites to help with earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

The moves come in the wake of the massive 7.0 earthquake that left much of Haiti's capital in ruins and millions in the already impoverished country without access to food, clean water, housing, and sanitation.

Apple has set up a donation page within the iTunes store where customers can easily donate to the Red Cross. CNET

Google has pledged $1 million and set up a special page for donations and added updated satellite imagery of the region to Google Maps. Microsoft has said it will give up to $1.25 million in cash and in-kind donations, as well as match employee contributions as part of its standard program that matches up to $12,000 per worker in donations each year.

Apple has set up a donation mechanism within iTunes, while a campaign by the Red Cross and the cellular industry to raise money via text message donations has pulled in more than $4 million, according to a Verizon Wireless spokesman.

The text message-based donations mark a major shift in the means of charitable giving. According to Verizon Wireless, the $4 million in SMS donations has now eclipsed text message donations among all carriers for all of 2009.

Those who wish to donate can text "Haiti" to 90999 and $10 will be added to their cell phone bill. All the money will go to the Red Cross, although MSNBC quoted a Sprint representative as saying its customers may be charged for the text message. Other major carriers told the site that customers won't be charged for the donation text.

T-Mobile added that it, through the end of the month, is also waiving charges for subscribers trying to reach loved ones in Haiti as well as roaming charges for subscribers that may be in Haiti. The waivers are retroactive to Jan. 12, the date of the quake. Verizon's foundation is also donating $100,000 and matching employee donations of up to $1,000 per worker.

The Intel Foundation is offering to match personal donations by the chipmaker's workers, up to $2,000 per employee, while AMD said it will match donations of time or money by workers, up to $3,000 per employee. Goddady.com said it is donating $500,000 to Hope for Haiti. Symantec is donating $50,000 to CARE, and is also matching worker donations, up to $1,000 per worker.

Salesforce.com, meanwhile, is matching public donations made via a special Web site up to $100,000. A list of other companies making donations is posted on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Web site.

Tech companies and government officials are also warning those who wish to donate to be on the lookout for scams, which have already begun cropping up. For those looking to help out, without falling victim to one of those scams, Charity Navigator has a list of top-rated nonprofits that are working on relief efforts in Haiti.

Microsoft, Cisco, and others are also working through NetHope to help set up basic power, communications, and other infrastructure. Meanwhile, Telecoms Sans Frontieres (Telecoms Without Borders) has sent emergency response teams to help rebuild the communications system and assist aid workers.

CNET's Tom Krazit and Marguerite Reardon, and the CNET Blog Network's Brooke Crothers contributed to this report.