How to Help in Haiti

After the very tragic and sad news that emerged out of Haiti about a devastating 7.0 earthquake that leveled the capital city of Port au Prince, the web quickly kicked into gear in a way not seen since last years Iran election disgrace and unrest. It was heart warming to see people put aside some of the more trivial discussions of the average day (it did not disappear, though) and focus on donation drives.

Clay Johnson of Sunlight Foundation makes a poignant point though around the effort to leverage wireless and mobile to donate. A variety of these opportunities have been compiled at Mobile Giving Insider. Through text messaging, it has become possible to donate on average $10 to efforts that are then applied to your mobile phone bill. Clay makes the point that some of that $10 goes to the carriers like Verizon Wireless and AT&T and that it makes more sense to use the web for donation efforts.

In my opinion, both forms of donation are good as it gets money to those who need it for relief efforts. But more money gets there when you don’t use the convenience of text message.

Here on this site, we’ll be adding a link to the top of the site over the next few hours to provide direct access to organizations providing relief efforts or raising money. This will run as long as it is needed to. Who knows, maybe it will also become permanent real estate for supporting charity organizations. All our recommended organizations are coming via Global Giving. You can thank the fine people over there for compiling and aggregating points of purpose in helping those who need it.

While you wait for those opportunities, consider donating to the International Medical Corps who are looking to raise $300,000 for medical relief efforts in Haiti.

Update: Keith points out in comments that CTIA, the wireless carrier association, has clarified that SMS donations to the Red Cross are being passed through by the carriers. In other words, all donations made by text message (text HAITI to 90999) are entirely passed on to the Red Cross Haiti Relief efforts.

Update 2: The yellow bar at the top provides a variety of charity organizations to donate to. It is a different one every time the page loads and, at this time, are all the charities on the Global Giving Haiti Relief website linked above. Commenters have provided additional charities that are worthy as well, and the Red Cross can be donated to as noted in the Update above.

Update 3: The CTIA blog states that all SMS donations to the Red Cross (Text HAITI to 90999) or Yele Haiti (Text YELE to 501501) are 100% passthru.

– Aaron

14 Replies to “How to Help in Haiti”

  1. I am seeking airfare to Haiti from Boise, ID. I have a seach dog that could help save lives. Could leave tomorrow for one week.

    1. It’s important to point out thataccording to the CTIA tweet, it’s only Red Cross donations that are being 100% passed through by the carriers. I’m going to note this in my post.

  2. I agree with the first comment – you’re better off donating to a charity with an established history in the country. Charity is a very difficult product to deliver (especially in a disaster zone).

  3. I agree with what this author has to say. I can say this through personal experience.

    We tried to help directly and luckily were turned back by the military.

    Had we actually been successful in getting to Port-Au-Prince, as disorganized civilians, we would have become part of the problem instead of the solution.

    So, yes, donations are important, and we have sent ours and hope to send more.


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  4. I’ve been reading all over the web about ways ordinary people have been trying to help Haiti. I think my favorite innovation was the “Haiti Earthquake Support Center” app generated by The Extraordinaries.

    The app let users match photos of missing people to photos gathered during the relief efforts. Similar to playing “Where’s Waldo?” if you found a match, you submitted it to the site. If they deemed the match a worthy one, they contacted the missing person’s family.

    The program has now ended, but I thought it was a brilliant idea that could be used in future catastrophes to help people find their missing loved ones.

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