Anyone with a mobile phone and an account with a major wireless carrier can text the phrase “Haiti” to the number 90999 and donate $10 to the Red Cross. That amount is charged to the donor’s cellphone bill.
The texted donations are being handled by a company called mGive
, which started the campaign in a joint effort with the State Department and the Red Cross late Tuesday night. Thanks to a mention on the White House’s blog and lots of word of mouth onTwitter and Facebook, the campaign had raised well over a million dollars by Tuesday evening, mGive said.
“Today is a huge day for mobile giving,” said Tony Aiello, chief executive of mGive. “We are experiencing a tipping point.”
Each month, when people pay their wireless bills, the texted donations are collected from the carriers and shuttled into a nonprofit clearinghouse managed by an mGive foundation, which in turn cuts a check to the appropriate charity.
MGive typically charges a licensing fee for its software platform, $4 to $1,500 a month, depending on the scale of the fund-raising effort and the additional services the company provides. In addition, after the charity receives the total amount raised from the wireless carriers, mGive charges a transaction fee for each collected donation.
In the case of the Haiti disaster, however, Mr. Aiello said the company had elected to waive all software and transaction fees.
“Catastrophic fund-raising is different from the everyday fund-raising that we help facilitate,” Mr. Aiello said. “This is a huge tragedy, and we simply hope to help provide relief.”