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The Web makes donating easier
January 19, 2010 - Art Smith
On Jan. 12 a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti and nearly wiped out the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The disaster has caused widespread damage and suffering.
Americans have responded like you would expect us to. We have reach out to help. Technology, and the web, are playing an increased role in both communicating and helping ease the suffering following the disaster.
Google, Facebook and others have set up sites to help people find out about missing loved ones. People on the ground in the Haiti, including news agencies, are using the Web to help get word out about the conditions and about how to help.
Helping is something Americans have always tried to do when a disaster strikes. In this case technology has made donating as easy as sending a text message with your cell phone.
The Mobile Giving Foundation worked with the four major cell phone companies to make it easy to donate. Phone users simply text the word “Haiti” it 90999 and $10 will be added to their next phone bill. At least one phone company has already begun transferring fund to the American Red Cross, even though in most cases, people have not even gotten their bills.
As of this morning Americans had donated $122 million to the Red Cross. Roughly one-fifth, or $22 million of that has come from people donating $10 at a time with their cell phones.
There are of course more conventional ways for people to donate, both on and off line. There are dozens of organizations that need help.
Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are spearheading a drive to raise private funds to help those in need. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has set up as a clearinghouse that offers a way to donate and become better informed about the work of different groups. The site has a large button on the home page encouraging people to donate now. The home page link is at right. Not surprising, you can also donate by texting “QUAKE” to 20222 to donate $10.
There is also a link to all the ad groups working in Haiti. On that page you will find both phone numbers and addresses where you can send donations. The list represents a wide-range of organizations and causes, allowing you to make a donation directly to an organization that you may already have an association with.
Americans have always given when needed. The Web and other technologies simply make it easier and quicker for the cash to get in the hands of people that need it.
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American Red Cross Matt Marek with Mari Michele Melson at a First Aid Post in Petionville, Port-Au-Prince. The American Red Cross is supporting the Haitian Red Cross with supplies and logistical and telecommunication help. Photo:Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross