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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Real Time Giving

Our chapter on civic culture discusses charitable giving. The Pew Research Center reports that technology is accelerating the pace of giving.
One of the notable aspects of the response to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 was the widespread use of the text messaging feature on mobile phones to contribute to the disaster recovery efforts. Those donations were encouraged by the U.S. State Department and allowed cell phone users to make an automatic contribution of $10 to the recovery efforts by using the text messaging function on their cell phones (for example, users could text the word "HAITI" to the short code 90999 to contribute to the Red Cross). In the months following the earthquake, Americans contributed more than $43 million via this program.
The first in-depth survey of mobile donors, focusing on individuals who sent a contribution to the Haiti earthquake relief effort using the text messaging, finds that a sizeable majority of donors acted in response to images they saw on television, and involved minimal background research. The vast majority of these donors (89%) heard about the Text to Haiti effort on television, and half (50%) made their contribution immediately upon learning about the campaign. Another 23% donated on the same day they heard about it. In addition to conducting little research before making a donation, most have not paid close attention to the ongoing reconstruction efforts in Haiti -- 43% have been following these efforts "not too closely" and 15% have been following them "not at all".
Read the full report to explore who these mobile givers are; the technologies they own; their involvement with charitable organizations and causes; what other types of mobile contributions they have made; and how they perceive mobile giving in comparison to other types of charitable contributions.