Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Old Force of Nature Meets a New Force of Kindness

This is the second time since we started this blog that I've posted about the use of social media after an earthquake.

Of course, the quake in Haiti was a world apart from the one last year in Italy, and not just in terms of geography. It appears that the devastation caused by the Haitian quake may be unlike anything we've ever seen before.

And this, in a country that was already considered by many to be a disaster zone on even a normal day.

While Twitter was once again the first media source on the scene, social media is now earning accolades for its power to raise a whole lot of money in a very short time. Almost instantly, musician Wyclef Jean was on the news shows appealing to people to text the word "yele" at 501501 to make an automatic $5 donation.

The Yele Haiti fund reached $1 million today.

Soon, it seemed every humanitarian aid group was collecting money this way. The Red Cross has raised $4 million through its $10 text number. The White House has a number, as does UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam and countless others.

Usually, donations take weeks to get where they need to go, but with these texts, it's instantaneous. And without having to write a check or pull out a credit card, people seem to be much quicker to donate.

"It's shattered any record that we've seen with mobile giving before," the Red Cross's social media manager told CNN.

It appears that in the aftermath of a tragedy of such immense magnitude, texting technology is now helping to untap generosity of perhaps an even great magnitude.

– Mark

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