Text donations changing face of charity

Jacquise Dilligard tries out her new Palm Pre smartphone at a Sprint store in Washington, D.C.


Steve Chiotakis: Relief efforts continue to pour into Haiti after Tuesday's catastrophic earthquake there. Here at home, cell phones are proving effective at raising money for those in need.
Marketplace's Sam Eaton has more.

Sam Eaton: Cell phone users have so far donated more than $3 million to relief organizations like the Red Cross just by sending text messages. And with the help of twitter and social networking sites like Facebook, these efforts have gone viral, making this largest mobile phone giving campaign in history.

Tony Aiello is CEO of MGive.com, which is providing the mobile service to Red Cross free of charge. And he says its so successful because in age of social networking and 24-hour news, it allows people to donate on impulse.

Tony Aiello: And they may have heard whether they're sitting in an airport waiting for a plane or over at a friends house, and the one thing they pretty much always have is the mobile phone with them. So it's a quick and easy way for them to respond.

But it's not without downsides. The money typically takes about 90 days to reach the organization you donated to. And it also paves the way for fraudulent campaigns, so it's important to make sure the organization you're donating to is legitimate.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.


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