Disaster Relief In The Digital Age

All eyes are on Haiti this week, and before anything, we must say that the thoughts and prayers of the entire Cone family go out to the people of Haiti. As nonprofit organizations and government agencies quickly deploy their emergency resources to come to Haiti’s aid in the aftermath of this tragedy, American citizens are just as quickly responding through their own channels – digitally.

With laptops and smartphones at their fingertips, donors are setting records with lightning-fast fundraising tools. Convio, a company that provides donation software to charities, processed more than $20 million as of January 13th – more than it did on December 31st, which is typically the biggest fundraising day of the year. And it wasn’t just online donation that was successful, text-to-donate campaigns saw big numbers too. The American Red Cross has raised $8 million to-date through its mobile campaign, and Yéle Haiti, the nonprofit of musician and Haiti-native Wyclef Jean, has raised more than $750,000 through a similar mobile effort.

Cone’s research on cause and new media this fall found that Americans are using such tools for awareness, but not necessarily translating this into donations. This situation debunks the myth that they won’t donate – for now we know when the need is urgent and the request is easy, citizens will respond through every tool at their disposal. One lesson to emerge from this devastating tragedy is that having new media communications and fundraising capabilities in place before the need is urgent will help mobilize your cause when the situation is dire. And despite the urgency of a message, those that are clear, concise and show ongoing results are lessons all organizations can heed when developing new media communications in support of their causes.

 

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