Texting Enables Instant Philanthropy
Faithful readers are aware that this blog has been critical of the cell phone industry and its trade association, CTIA, on numerous occasions. While your blogger continues to believe that the specific criticisms of the past were well deserved, this week it is time for praise for their leadership in enabling the "instant philanthropy" that has raised at least $5,000,000 so far for earthquake relief in Haiti. (As of 5 PM, 1/14)
It appears that people are more willing to donate money if you can do it instantly without paperwork. Also the cellular carriers appear to be waiving any fees associated with such texting. It is clear that AT&T and T-Mobile are not collecting any commission off such donations. Presumably the other major carriers are also collecting commissions, but that is harder to confirm. (T-Mobile and VZW have not updated the top level of their their websites to link to this issue, possibly because of an inflexible approach to web design.)
T-Mobile is going beyond the texting/donation issue by announcing
"For current T-Mobile customers who are trying to connect with loved ones in Haiti during the aftermath of the country’s devastating earthquake, T-Mobile USA is enabling phone calls to Haiti without charges for international long distance through January 31, 2010, and retroactive to the earthquake on January 12, 2010. Additionally, T-Mobile customers who may already be in Haiti will be able to roam on T-Mobile’s partner networks in Haiti (operated locally in Haiti under the names Voila and Digicel) free-of-charge through the end of the month. In both cases, T-Mobile will remove these charges from customer bills accordingly.
T-Mobile has also taken steps to assist with the restoration of the wireless communications infrastructure in Haiti – a key component in supporting the overall humanitarian and recovery efforts. T-Mobile has pledged its support to donate wireless equipment such as generators and phones."
The Miami Herald reports that AT&T "is donating $50,000 to Telecoms Sans Frontieres, a humanitarian organization that has sent an emergency team with satellite mobile and fixed communications equipment to Haiti". (BBC page on TSF - with videos.)
So our admiration to the cell phone industry for this outstanding job in responding to the disaster in Haiti!
mocoNews.Net reports that the amount raised for the Red Cross alone so far is $22M. They add,
One problem with using cellphones is that it takes awhile for the money to get from the carriers to the people in need. However, given the dire circumstances in Haiti, a handful of carriers, including Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA, said they will pass along the money as soon as possible.VZW has already sent $3M and T-Mobile will forward the money this week. Both are, in effect, forwarding money they have not received in normal billing cycles.