Posts Tagged ‘Red Cross’

We’ve all been greatly touched and saddened by the news and images coming from Haiti this week concerning the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. Americans and the rest of the world have rushed to send aid to the Haitian people through a variety of relief and service organizations.

One of the biggest efforts has been that of the American Red Cross. It wasn’t too long ago (think Hurricane Katrina) that the Red Cross was embroiled in some very bad press regarding the response to the needs of the Katrina victims (I watched this unfold on a personal basis as I had two Katrina refugees who came to live with me for a while). But this Red Cross seems much nimbler and much more savvy, at least when it comes to their fund raising efforts regarding Haitian relief.

Late Wednesday night, I became aware of the Red Cross’s text campaign to raise money for their relief efforts in Haiti. You know, the one that allows you to text “HAITI” to 90999 and a $10 donation is made to the Red Cross and the $10 appears as a charge on your next phone bill. I Tweeted this info, along with tens of thousands of others, and posted it on my Facebook page, as I’m sure  that many of you did. How many times did you see a Tweet of a Facebook status report in the past couple of days mentioning the 90999 text program?

In case you are not aware, the “Text 90999” methodology has been available for well over a year, and has been used in other charitable efforts. For example, last spring a campaign was launched by “Keep A Child Alive” using the 90999 text number. Texting “ALIVE” would generate a $5 donation that was charged to your phone bill. My point is, the Red Cross did not have to create the methodology or the infrastructure. It was already there. What the Red Cross did was get the program in place and got the word out quickly!

This afternoon (Friday, January 15, 2010), as I write this, the “Text 90999” campaign and generated over $9 million in Haitian aid money for the Red Cross!

Speaking this afternoon on CNN, the Red Cross’s social media manager said that the Red Cross is “stunned” by the magnitude of the outpouring of digital fundraising. The amount of money raised by the “Text 90999” campaign is more than douple all the money raised by all charities using the “90999”methodology in 2009.

What the “Text 90999” campaign has done is important to understand. First of all, it has made it easy to donate, using something (texting) that many of us do several times a day. This has really impacted the Gen Y-ers, who, a recent study shows, text an average of 740 times a month. For many of us, texting has replaced email, voice-to-voice conversations and just about any other form of person-to-person communication. Secondly, it’s quick and easy to do. When I made my donation, it took less than 15 seconds.

For those of us who use social media as a marketing tool, we have seen the “Text HAITI to 90999” campagin go viral. $9 million in donations at $10 per donation means that 900,000 people have responded in about 36 hours! This is immediate, simple to do, and the results create additional inertia to the campaign. Each news story that features the “Text 90999” campaign and its results illicits even more participation.

While other fund raising efforts are underway – it is rumored that George Clooney is putting together a telethon to air across several broadcast and cable networks in a week or so, the “Text 90999” campaign offers an immediate way for those of us who have been touched by this tragedy to feel as if we have contributed something NOW!

I would be remiss if I did not include the efforts of musician and Haiti native Wyclef Jean in this post. His similar campaign: “Text YELE to 501501” to donate $5 has raised over $1 million in three days. That’s over 200,000 respondents. It has been somewhat overwhelmed by the publicity generated by the Red Cross’s campaign.

Have you contributed using the “Text 90999” campaign? I would be interested in your thoughts.


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