Text to Help Haiti: A Record Outpouring of Help

Text to Help Haiti: A Record Outpouring of Help
Major U.S. wireless carriers say the numbers of people donating to Haitian relief efforts via text messages has been the largest and most successful outpouring of charitable giving of its kind to date. While the concept of giving via text messages is not new, the massive number of people giving via text messages is.

As of Thursday U.S. cell phone users have contributed more than $5 million to the Red Cross for Haiti disaster relief in record time, according to the charity. In total, an estimated $7 million has been donated to charity relief organizations in $5 and $10 increments via text messages from all carriers. Jeffery Nelson, Verizon Wireless spokesperson told MSNBC the Haitian Relief Effort is "the largest outpouring of charitable support by texting in history - by far."

Customers of all four major wireless carriers can send donations using SMS "shortcodes" without incurring any additional texting charges.

Read on to see how your carrier is handling donations to Haitian relief.

The Charities

There are six charities that allow you to donate to Haitian relief efforts via SMS. They are: Yele Haiti ($5 donation), Clinton Foundation Haitian Relief Fund ($10 donation), International Medical Corps ($10 donation), International Rescue Committee ($5 donation), American Red Cross ($10 donation) and the Salvation Army of Upper Wisconsin ($10 donation).

Anyone in the United States can use these shortcodes to donate to the charity of their choice using their mobile phone. All donations will be charged to you through your monthly wireless bill.

To see a complete breakdown of how to send your donations via SMS click on the image above.

Sprint

Sprint customers have by far the widest range of charities to donate to Haitian Relief efforts. The carrier has waived all applicable SMS fees (retroactive from Wednesday) for donations to the American Red Cross, Yele Haiti, Clinton Foundation, International Medical Corps/Rescue Union Mission (shortcode 85944) and the International Rescue Committee. Sprint will pass on one hundred percent of your donation to the above charities. As of Thursday, Sprint customers had donated a total of $882,000 to Haitian Relief.

In addition to waiving customer fees, the Sprint Foundation, Sprint's philanthropic arm, has donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross, and will match employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to another $50,000 between now and January 31. Making a potential $150,000 donation between the Sprint Foundation and Sprint employees.

T-Mobile

T-mobile is already offering free long distance to Haiti and free roaming for the rest of the month within the devastated country, now T-Mobile customers can donate to both the American Red Cross and Yele Haiti without incurring mobile SMS charges. One hundred percent of your donation will be forwarded to the charities. At the time of this writing, T-Mobile had not released any numbers about customer giving. T-Mobile will also be donating wireless equipment such as generators and phones to help rebuild Haiti's telecommunications infrastructure.

AT&T

The other two major wireless carriers have promised to waive texting fees only for donations to the American Red Cross. To give a $10 donation to the ARC text HAITI to 90999.

AT&T has waived SMS fees for customers donating to the Red Cross retroactive to Thursday at 12:35:12 PM. One hundred percent of your donation will be passed on to the Red Cross. As of 6PM ET Thursday, AT&T says its mobile customers have donated $2.63 million to the American Red Cross via SMS--almost half of all SMS donations given to the Red Cross so far. The carrier's philanthropic arm is also donating $50,000 to Telecoms Sans Frontieres (Telecoms without Borders). Haiti's telecommunications network suffered a crippling blow due to the earthquake, and TSF is providing emergency telecommunications services in Haiti.

Verizon

Verizon says close to 140,000 customers have texted donations to the Red Cross (approximately $1.4 million). The Verizon Foundation is also donating $50,000 to both World Vision and Food for the Poor. The foundation will also match Verizon employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $1000 per employee.

Although donating by text has existed for several years, the Haitian relief effort is the biggest campaign of its kind to elicit donations from American mobile customers. Jeffery Nelson, Verizon Wireless spokesperson told MSNBC the Haitian Relief Effort was "the largest outpouring of charitable support by texting in history - by far." As of Thursday, total U.S. donations via text had reached $7 million, with more than $5 million of those proceeds going to the American Red Cross.


The donation-by-text campaigns are not only a win for charities, but may also help repair the public images of wireless carriers famous for mystery charges, service problems and high fees.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

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