1:30:08 AM

Texting to save lives

We read and hear enough about the disastrous effect of text messaging. Of course there are those that text and drive (I’ll admit to being guilty of this). There are those that text during class and at the dinner table. And let’s not forget the astronomical cell phone bill everyone gets hit with at least once thanks to prolific texts by yourself or your children.

And while many bemoan this little piece of modern technology and the social implications, during the last few days the text message has come to represent something more. It’s been a chance for us to give to those in need. It’s been a way to send money to the victims of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti.

With the punching of a few simple buttons, people throughout the US and around the world have been able to donate $10 to the American Red Cross’s relief efforts. Those wishing to give only needed to text the word ‘Haiti’ to the number 90999. A $10 charge would appear on the following month’s phone bill. Quick, simple and to the point – the way we like our technology.

As of Sunday, the text campaign had single handedly raised $22 million. The campaign, which went viral through Facebook and Twitter while the media was still trying to access the situation, raised money through one $10 text at a time. At the time, the $22 million accounted for one-fifth of the total $112 million collected.

The amazing thing is that this way of fundraising is completely new. Previous major disasters relied on other outlets to collect money. Online forms and corporate donations are the usual routes. And before Haiti’s disaster the most the Red Cross had been able to raise through text messages was $400,000. In fact, according to reports, throughout 2009, only $4 million was raised via text message for all charities that accepted donations this way.

So while we still shouldn’t text and drive and it is rude to text at the dinner table, this little modern creation is bringing relief to thousands of homeless and injured survivors in Haiti. $22 million through text messages for a country where the average family survives on less than $200 a year – that can translate into a lot of good.

Honestly, this is one of the many reasons why I love social media and modern technology. There are so many amazing things that can be done when these innovations are used for the good.

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