Americans Give Record $3 Million Via Text Messages for Haiti Earthquake Relief

Americans set a single day record for mobile giving Wednesday, as tens of thousands of people used their cell phones to donate $3 million to earthquake-stricken Haiti, according to Verizon Wireless.The money, which was donated via text messages, will go directly to Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Haiti. According to Jeffrey Nelson, a Verizon spokesman, his company won't charge customers for processing the donations and is looking into ways to advance the money so it can reach the disaster zone more quickly. T-Mobile has also said it will facilitate the donations without charge. On Thursday afternoon, AT&T said it would waive fees for text message donations to Haiti and retroactively reimburse users for fees already paid. Sprint customers, however, may incur a fee if they aren't subscribed to an unlimited data plan.

%%DynaPub-Enhancement class="enhancement contentType-HTML Content fragmentId-1 payloadId-61603 alignment-right size-small"%%Wednesday's record far exceeds the previous single-day mobile giving benchmarks of $200,000 in December 2004 during the Indian Ocean tsunami crisis, and $400,000 in August 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, said Nelson. And Thursday is looking like it will top Wednesday's mobile giving record.

Shortly after the once-in-a-lifetime, 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, the wireless carriers began working with the Red Cross and other aid groups to allow charitable giving via wireless phones. The carriers are also working with the Clinton Foundation's Haiti Relief Fund and Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.

Verizon Exploring How To Expedite Donations

Donations are added to each customer's wireless bill. That means that most users won't actually be sending the money until they pay their next bill. That's why Verizon Wireless is working on advancing the money to the disaster zone as soon as possible. "We understand the need to get this money into the pipeline ASAP and we're looking at ways to do that internally," said Nelson. "People want to give now, and the money needs to get there as soon as possible."

Verizon Wireless customers can support the Red Cross relief effort by texting HAITI to 90999 and following the instructions to donate $10. To donate $10 to the Clinton Foundation, text HAITI to 20222 and to give $5 to Wyclef Jean's Yele fund, text YELE to 50150.

This story was updated to include other wireless carriers involvement in the mobile giving campaigns.

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