Text 'Haiti' earthquake relief effort raises $32M for Red Cross

More than 100,000 donations an hour came in at times

The text "Haiti" campaign raised $32 million in the month following the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, the American Red Cross said Thursday.

More than three million people have texted "Haiti" to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the American Red Cross. At some periods during the month, more than 100,000 transactions were made in less than an hour, said James Eberhard, chairman of mGive.com, a subsidiary of Mobile Accord Inc. that donated its services and the mGive platform used to collect the donations.

The Red Cross reported two days after the earthquake that the text donation system had already raised $4 million. The donation system was set up within three hours of the quake.

The Red Cross thanked donors as well as the mobile carriers who waived texting fees and sped up the processing of donations. The agency said it had already received more than $15 million in donations from AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.

"This is a great example of rapidly employing modern technology to support a vitally important foreign policy and humanitarian priority," said P.J. Crowley, assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. State Department, which worked with mGive, the Red Cross and the CTIA wireless association on the effort.

A $10 text donation can provide a family in Haiti with two water cans to store clean drinking water, basic first aid supplies or a blanket, Red Cross officials said. The American Red Cross has committed $78 million to Haiti relief, with 70% going to food and water. It has about 100 relief specialists and volunteers on site, working with 600 Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from more than 30 countries and 2,500 Haitian Red Cross volunteers.

All told, the Red Cross network is providing enough water each day for 300,000 people in Haiti, and has estimated that food and relief items such as blankets have reached 170,000 people. The network is also joining other relief workers in vaccinating children against disease.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed @matthamblen or subscribe to . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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