Social media support for Haiti forcing shift

January 21, 2010

Donations for Haiti continue to pour in and are, in the US alone, exceeding $ 305 million according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy .  Large sums are being donated  online and through text messages. By Wednesday, the American Red Cross had received more than $25 million through its campaign to encourage $10 gifts through texts.

In the UK, mobiles and social media have also played a big part in the Disasters Emergency Committee ‘s fundraising efforts, particularly in the 36 hours following the launch of their appeal.   After the first DEC announcement on Twitter at 7.41pm on Wednesday, an amazing £8 million was raised online.  The tweet simply said: “You’re the first to know – DEC #Haiti Earthquake Appeal now live, UK broadcast appeals to follow”.  A mobile text donation system was launched shortly afterwards and by Saturday morning a total of 148,000 people had donated online. Social networking sites Facebook and Twitter also drove the highest number of referrals to the DEC website, after the BBC.

This immense online response to Haiti has forced a shift in approach and we’re seeing organizations who previously haven’t actively employed social media now using these tools for their outreach.   This is, we believe, the turning point in non-profit social media adoption: we no longer need to convince agencies about the potential, instead we must help build sustained, long-term engagement so that people are able to continue to support Haiti and other social change/non-profit causes through these effective tools.

Carel Pedre