People interested in helping victims of the earthquake that wracked Haiti Tuesday are being encouraged to text and tweet their donations and publicize their support using the new technologies. At the same time, that instant communication has provided a platform for donors to ask charities tough questions about where to give and how their money will be used.
It may also be helping to raise significant sums online. Convio, a company that provides software to charities, processed more donations Wednesday than it did on December 31, the biggest fund-raising day of last year, when it processed more than $20-million. While international-aid groups make up a small share of Convio's clients, they include some of the biggest relief organizations such as the American Red Cross, World Vision, UNICEF, and Catholic Charities.
Individual relief organizations' early fund-raising figures included:
- As of Wednesday afternoon, the American Red Cross had raised more than $1-million through its Web site and tollfree telephone number. The organization's mobilie-giving campaign - cellphone users can make a $10 donation by using their cell phones to text "HAITI" to the number 90999 - also brought in more than $1-million. A map on the MGive Web site breaks down how much money has been contributed by state.
- In the first 24 hours after the disaster, Oxfam America received contributions totaling more than $800,000. At least $10,000 of that came in through a Facebook cause the group set up for earthquake relief efforts.
- Donations to Save the Children's relief efforts totaled $279,000 by late Wednesday afternoon.
- AmeriCares raised more than $500,000 so far for Haiti relief work.
- World Vision brought in almost $700,000 from Web donations, with an additional $100,000 from major donors and $100,000 in corporate gifts.
- Mercy Corps had raised $600,000.
Other efforts include:
- Yele Haiti, a nonprofit group started by the Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean. Donors can make a $5 gift to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund by texting "Yele" to 501501.
- The Global Philanthropy Group, which advises wealthy people on their giving, has started a campaign to ask celebrities and other donors it works with, such as Ben Stiller and John Legend, to use Twitter and Facebook to encourage giving to UNICEF. Mr. Stiller, the actor, has shifted his Stillerstrong campaign from supporting a school in Haiti to earthquake relief.
- Mercy Corps, Lutheran World Relief, Partners in Health, AmeriCares, Operation USA, and many other aid groups are using Twitter to direct people to give on their Web sites. At 11:30 ET on Wednesday, "Yele" was the top "trending topic" on Twitter, while "Help Haiti" ranked fourth, "text" sixth, and "Port-au-Prince" seventh.
At the same time, donors are using Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to ask questions about their giving and endorse favorite charities.
For example, Tom Watson, a journalist and consultant who writes about nonprofit issues, tweeted, "I trust @globalgiving to get $$ to #Haiti quickly and effectively - please give now!" and then included a link to Global Giving's Emergency Earthquake Relief Fund for Haiti.
Saundra Schimmelpfennig, an aid worker who assisted in tsunami recovery efforts, opened her blog up to advice from other aid workers and donors on deciding which charities to support.
She is posting Twitter messages like this one from @mmaren: "Take care in who you give money to for Haiti relief. Beware of kitchen-sink lists of charities. Relief organizations I recommend: Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam America. Best way to help Haiti: http://www.oxfamamerica.org."
Nicole Wallace contributed to this story.