Cell-phone text messaging is being used to help victims of the deadly Haiti quake in probably the fastest way possible. Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has helped raise more than $1 million in a joint effort with the Give on the Go campaign, according to the Los Angeles Times. The American Red Cross said it had brought in more than $8 million using the same technique. “This is the first time there has been a major disaster when this type of service has been widely available,” says Yéle Haiti’s executive director, Hugh Locke, whose nonprofit will use the funds to send nutrition bars, candles, hand-cranked flashlights and blankets to Haiti on two FedEx planes Friday.
The technique for texting a donation is pretty fast and simple: Enter a five- or six-digit code into your cell phone, along with a single word in the body of the text, such as Haiti. The donation amount is added to your next phone bill.
“Our goal is to raise $1 million per day for the sufferers of this catastrophe,” the chairman of the Miami-based Give on the Go campaign, Matt McKenna, told the L.A. Times. Jean, through his Twitter account, encouraged his followers to donate $5 to Yéle Haiti by sending a text message of “Yéle” to 501501, with the $5 being charged to the donor’s cell phone bill. “Your money will help with relief efforts,” Jean’s message to his 1.4 million followers read. “They need our help.”
AT&T said $10 donations can be sent to the Red Cross International Relief Fund by typing HAITI and sending it to 90999. A confirmation message will arrive within a few minutes, standard text messaging rates will apply, and 100 percent of the money donated will be passed on to the Red Cross.