Red Cross stirs cellular aid in Haiti

Meghan Parmentier

The ability to donate to help victims of Haiti’s recent catastrophic earthquake is now right at the tip sof one’s fingers, quite literally.

Relief funds for the earthquake on Jan. 12 that devastated Haiti, particularly its capital city, Port-au-Prince, have been flooding in since news of the tragedy broke. More than $15 million have been raised since the disaster.

Cell phone users have contributed directly through text messaging. Donations of $10 can be made to the American Red Cross by texting “Haiti” to the special number the relief organization has set up. The charge for the donation will appear later on mobile users’ cellphone bills. Through this source of fundraising, the Red Cross receives 100 percent of the donation.

Haitian native and musician Wyclef Jean is also endorsing text message donations of $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

Rich Hanley, assistant professor of journalism, attributes the success of the record-breaking “mobile giving” effort to the fact that texting has become a routine part of today’s culture.

“The campaign’s success can be tied to a confluence of three things: the ease with which people can donate via a text message, widespread publicity via traditional and online media in presenting the number to text and the relatively small amount of donation, $10, for each text contribution,” he said. “When people see the images streaming from Haiti, the impulse is to help, and the ability to satisfy that impulseis just a few keystrokes awayon a device many people have in their pocket.”

The campaign’s success has reached Quinnipiac’s campus, as freshman Devon Jerome and junior Jennifer Leaman have both donated via their cell phone. For Leaman, it was the least she could do and would like to do more, by sending clothes and donating blood when levels are low.

“Cash donations through texting are the most efficient and helpful way to give to a charity,” Hanley said. “It gives the charity the flexibility to spend locally on what it needs at the moment it needs it. Sending physical goods requires a logistics operation that is often costly and slow, thus neutering the impact of the donation if needed immediately.”

Donations can be sent to…

  • Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund can be made by texting the word “Yele” to 501501.
  • American Red Cross can be made by texting “Haiti” to 90999
  • Clinto nFoundation by texting “Haiti” to 20222
  • International Medical Corps by texting “Haiti” to 85944
  • International Rescue Committee by texting “Haiti” to 25383
  • Salvation Army by texting “Haiti” to 52000