Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unprecedented Donations for the American Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Fund

Cellphone users in the United States have contributed more than $9 million to the American Red Cross Haitian earthquake relief fund, an unprecedented amount, according to spokeswoman Nadia Pontif. The donations came from more than 900,000 mobile phone users, and are apparently fueled by Facebook and Twitter, where users are urging one another to make donations using cellphones. American First Lady Michelle Obama made a made a Public Service Announcement herself, asking people to join her in supporting the Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti:

“The images from Haiti are heart-breaking—homes, hospitals and schools destroyed; families searching for loved ones; parents trying to feed their children. But we can all do something. We can help the American Red Cross as it delivers the food, water and medicine that can save lives. Donate $10 by texting “HAITI” to 9-0-9-9-9. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Thanks for your help.”

Mobile carriers Verizon, AT&T Inc, Sprint and T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, have waived fees for customers wishing to send mobile donations, and have reported that they are not taking a cut of the donations. All funds are going to the Red Cross in their entirety, although there might be some lags till they actually go from the donor to the charity. Jim Manis, chief executive officer of The Mobile Giving Foundation, said in a statement that donations can take 90 days to be delivered to a charity, and that currently the carriers are “working through a solution to push those funds out faster.”

Give on the Go, Yele’s mobile application service provider announced that Haiti-born hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund has raised $2 million via text messages – cellphone users can donate $5 to this fund by texting the word “Yele” to 501501.

There are also other celebrities involved in the effort to help Haiti: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who have donated $1 million from their foundation to Doctors Without Borders; Tiger Woods who was reported to donate $3 million to help with the recovery; actor George Clooney who will host a telethon on MTV next week to raise funds for the victims; Ben Stiller who raises money and awareness for the Save the Children’s Ceverine Community School Project in Haiti; Alyssa Milano who donated $50,000 to relief efforts in Haiti through UNICEF; Tea Leoni; UNICEF ambassador, who appeared on “Larry King Live” on January 13 to raise awareness for this cause; Chris Martin and many others.