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Text to Donate for Haiti - some thoughts

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cell-phone-21Learning about all the stuff that’s happening around text message donations during the Haiti crisis.  It seems to be getting a lot of press!

This is the first humanitarian disaster where this type of micro-donating is taking a really big roll.  Plan Canada (who I work for blogging at Because I am a Girl) have raised over $3000 using Text to Donate technology so far.  This is nothing compared to the millions that the American Red Cross has managed to raise since Jan 12 using the same technology.

I’m not sure that this is founded in hard data, or if its just an assumption, but one of the cool things about this approach is that the people who are using sms to donate are people that wouldn’t typically donate (like the woman profiled in this article in the Globe and Mail).  And, it is accessible to a younger crowd (who probably don’t end up paying for their phone bills anyway….thanks mom!).

Another aspect of it that I thought was quite interesting was brought up by the head of Canada Helps in the same G&M article.  He was talking about how this approach to fundraising plays on “turning the donor into a fundraiser”.  For example, I send my donation text, and then I also try to get my friends to do it, thereby multiplying my own contribution.

On the other hand some concern that has been brought up about how much the cell phone companies are keeping as administrative fees.  Rumor in the social justice field has it that sometimes they can be quite high, but that other times they have been waived.  Checking in with Plan Canada, their text messages “cost” the organization 5% of the donation (25 cents per $5), which is quite good.

And, with all the hype, sometimes bad things happen.  I got caught up in the excitement of Blackberry Messenger’s alleged commitment to provide 35 cents to Haiti relief each time a particular text message was passed on.  Turns out it was a scam. Sorry to the people in my BBM list who got that message!  Maybe Blackberry should decide to make an honest woman of me and actually make donations based on a viral text message of this type!

Here are some organizations that are currently accepting text message donations:

Partners in Health (through the oneXone Foundation):

Text to Give: Rogers and FIDO wireless customers YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Donate $5 to ONEXONE using your cell phone.  It’s easy and safe. TEXT donate to 1291. Customers will see a $5 charge on their Rogers or FIDO wireless bill each text message sent.

Plan Canada:

You can text a donation for $5 to Plan by texting the word HAITI to 30333. Your donation will go to help Plan’s ongoing relief efforts after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill.  Standard messaging rates and additional fees may apply.

Canadian Salvation Army:

When texting HAITI to 45678 via a mobile phone, a micro-donation of $5 will be made to aid the millions of people affected by this tragedy. One-hundred percent of each donation will go to The Salvation Army to serve this vital need. The donation will appear as a charge on a donor’s carrier bill, and standard rates may apply.

World Vision Canada:

Canadians can now donate $5 to World Vision on their cell phones. Simply text “WORLD” to 45678. A one-time donation toward relief efforts in Haiti will be added to your mobile phone bill. Standard messaging rates and additional fees may apply.  IMPORTANT: Once you text your donation, you’ll receive a confirmation message to which you must reply YES. If you don’t complete this step, your donation will not be made.

One Comment »

  • Jerome said:

    Hi. Texting donations is great and in some countries (like in Southeast Asia) the majority of one-time and monthly donors give by text. Unfortunately due to regulation issues, Canadians can only give a maximum gift of $5 per text. Hopefully someday these regulations will change and allow us all to give more and more often. But for now I hope donors do not stop making the larger gifts possible through the web and phone by credit card that causes like Haiti deserve.

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