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Text donations changing face of charity

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

TEXT OF STORY

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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Most of the text donations are "powered" by The Mobile Giving Foundation. From their web site: "The wireless carriers pass 100% of the charitable funds they collect through to MGF. The MGF also remits 100% of the donation to the recipient nonprofit within 30 days of receiving funds from the wireless carriers. The MGF charges back costs for short-code costs, reporting and messaging charges directly to the nonprofit organizations or their supporting service providers on a post-donation basis." So someone is getting charged. They also don't state that it take at least 30 days before the money clears. My company XIPWIRE is a mobile payment provider that is launching a donations platform. You can pledge up to $500 and the money gets to the victims in a matter of weeks instead of months. This is a new technology that needs to be better understood by the public.
www.xipwire.com

I think you were taking ideas for financial new year resolutions a while back.

here's one: I resolve to share more, to give more, to be more generous. I've started by giving to the Haiti earthquake appeal.
Why, because hard times for me, comfortably off in the USA are nothing like the hard times other people in other parts of the world (yes, and the country) are experiencing. I am not welthy by US standards, but I have more than I need, so I can afford to give more in 2010.

The old idea of tithing, gving a tenth of one's income to the needy (not the church!), is a good one - I could start tithing, or if I already tithe, I could increase my percentage.

The campaign allows the users of mobile devices to make an instant donation of $5 to Mr. Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation, a disaster-relief charity by texting the word “Yele” to 501501. (The charge appears later on the user’s telephone bill.) In a statement, Matt McKenna, the president of Red Fish Media, “100% of the donations” are given directly to the charity.

In a news release, Give On The Go, the fund-raising division of the Miami-based company Red Fish Media, said that its goal was to raise more than $1 million per day. The campaign allows the users of mobile devices to make an instant donation of $5 to Mr. Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation, a disaster-relief charity by texting the word “Yele” to 501501. (The charge appears later on the user’s telephone bill.) In a statement, Matt McKenna, the president of Red Fish Media, “100% of the donations” are given directly to the charity. The campaign began at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and Mr. Jean has tirelessly promoted it on his Twitter account, soon after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince.

With a $10 donation through your phone how much money actually gets to the charity and how much goes to the phone company and credit card company?

Well, impulse giving is much better than impulse buying.

So, I have to ask the obvious: Is NPR going to try text donations for its next fund drive?

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