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Society - Written by on Friday, January 15, 2010 10:20 - 2 Comments

Laura M.  Carrillo
Helping Haiti – Social media doing its part

You cannot turn on the major television networks without seeing pictures and up to date coverage of Tuesday’s massive earthquake in Haiti. While that is the standard course of action during any major crisis, what is different during this disaster is the amount of sustained “coverage” of the quake trending on social media. What I find specifically fascinating is the way the channel is being used for outreach and donation support. #HelpHaiti continues to be a top trending topic on Twitter this morning, while numerous posts and a couple donation sites have popped up on Facebook; though it is still difficult to determine which of the Facebook sites are legitimate.

Twitter and Facebook specifically are proving to be valuable tools for organizations soliciting donations. One of the more popular options ties together the huge adoption of social networking tools with everyone’s favorite communication device, your cell phone. The Red Cross developed a text option, so when the word “Haiti” is sent to a specific number, $10 is donated to the Haitian relief effort. The $10 charge shows up on your cell phone bill, so no need to worry about exchanging credit card information, or even visiting a web site. As one of my colleague’s posted “it’s easy peasy!” Within my relatively small network I’ve already seen the message about this option posted on no less than 100 status updates or Twitter posts. Last night The American Red Cross posted this on its Facebook page:

American Red Cross is confirming that you have donated $5 million by texting “Haiti” to 90999. You are amazing.

Pretty impressive for less than 2 full days work!

Of course, as with most outreach efforts there are always losers out there looking to make a quick buck with donation scams. On Wednesday the FBI actually released a fraud alert about donation scams.  Unfortunately social media tools become an attractive option for these criminals given the speed at which communications can reach critical mass. Thankfully the channel also allows for the revealing of frauds relatively quickly as well. I’ve seen a few posts pointing people to places where they can find lists of legitimate charities. This includes sites like –  the washingtonpost.com, NBC’s Boston affiliate WHDH, and most other local television news sites.

I could go on about the lessons that other organizations could learn from The Red Cross and other’s use of social media channels. However, today I think it’s more appropriate for us all to pause for just a minute, count our blessings and send thoughts and prayers to all of the families affected by the Haiti earthquake.


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Susan Mallery
Jan 15, 2010 12:15

Social media can make a powerful impact in the world! I just posted to my Facebook fan page that I will match my fans’ contributions to UNICEF or the Red Cross, up to a total of $500. Not only do they double their impact (and I double mine), but I hope that we’ll inspire others to give, as well. We all get the thought to give when tragedy strikes, but thoughts don’t always turn into actions. The cell phone campaign is a fabulous easy and fast way for people to take action immediately, and we now have proof that it works!

Susan Mallery
http://www.Facebook.com/SusanMallery (In case you want to take advantage of my offer. :) )

Cyril Smith
Apr 21, 2010 9:07

some of my friends who work in haiti were also victimized by that terrible earthquake., i was very thankful that they only suffered minor scratches.

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