Mobile donations to Haiti exceed all in 2009

Since the tweet "Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief" went viral, more than $8 million in donations surpasses mobile giving throughout all of 2009.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read

Since tweets such as "Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to @RedCross relief" went viral Wednesday, more than $8 million has been donated--about double the amount donated to all charities via text messaging throughout all of 2009, a Red Cross spokeswoman tells CNN.

The Red Cross has solicited text message-based giving campaigns in the past, but its biggest peak was when people raised $190,000 via the Text2HELP campaign in the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, according to the organization.

And while Red Cross reports that it has already received far more money via larger donations--about $40 million in just three days--the $8 million raised via MGive's $10 texting campaign could represent money from a group that otherwise might not have written checks or entered credit card info online.

On Twitter on Friday afternoon, the term "Help Haiti" appeared on the Web site as the fifth most popular trending topics. And Sysomos, an analytics firm out of Toronto, estimates that some 150,000 posts containing both "Haiti" and "Red Cross" have been tweeted since Tuesday.

Yéle Haiti

The Red Cross campaign is not the only one gaining currency right now. Several others are promoting similar, simple texting campaigns, most notably musician Wyclef Jean's Yele organization, by which people can text the word "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5. It raised more than $1 million this way by Thursday, a figure that doubled to more than $2 million by Friday.

Donating $5 or $10 by texting a word to a six-digit number is not only an amount a large number of people can actually afford, it's also, let's face it, the easiest, fastest, most convenient way for a person with a cell phone to donate.

We'll have to wait to see whether mobile giving has now reached a tipping point and will ultimately outpacemore traditional means of giving, or whether this week's campaign will stand alone, but I've got my money on the text. In the meantime, be sure to avoid charity scams, if you plan to donate.