Making good on its pledge to get help to Haiti immediately, Verizon Wireless advanced $2.98 million in mobile donations that its customers have made to the Red Cross on Friday. Since the earthquake hit Haiti earlier this week, wireless companies have received a flood of donations via text messages. Typically, such donations can take up to three months to be delivered. But as DailyFinance reported yesterday, Verizon Wireless had been looking for a way to "get this money into the pipeline ASAP."Given the severity of the crisis, Verizon Wireless footed the bill (for now) and made the $2.98 million transfer immediately. Verizon Wireless said it would "continue to advance funds pledged by Verizon Wireless customers and provide dollars to the Red Cross outside normal operation procedures."
"President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have challenged the American people to donate to the Red Cross relief effort, and companies like Verizon need to step up to the plate," Verizon Wireless president and CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement. "Time is of the essence, and it makes sense for us to toss aside our normal financial processes to get money where it can do the most good, in the fastest way possible."
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton praised the mobile giving efforts and urged Americans to continue. "The devastation is far greater than we could have imagined, so please keep texting," Clinton said.
Verizon Wireless Bypasses Normal Procedures
Since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, U.S. mobile users have donated over $10 million using their cellphones. That numbers dwarfs the $4 million that mobile customers donated during the whole year of 2009.
Jim Manis, CEO of the Mobile Giving Foundation, which helps to administer the funds, told Reuters that the foundation was receiving up to 10,000 text messages per second.
Another organization working cell phone donations, mGive, has a map displaying a state-by-state breakdown of the donations.
Verizon Wireless said its $2.98 million transfer to the Red Cross "bypasses the normal process used to get donations paid to charities." Sprint (S) and AT&T (T) are also looking at ways to speed up donations.
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.
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