New technology speeds donations for Haiti relief efforts

The Washignton Post, January 15, 2010, by Susan Kinzie  —  New and easier ways to contribute have helped propel donations for Haiti earthquake relief efforts despite a weak economy, according to officials at a number of aid organizations, some of whom marveled at the volume of donations tweeted and texted from cellphones.

On Thursday, the American Red Cross had received more than $35 million since Tuesday night’s earthquake, a record for the organization in a 48-hour period, an official said. That included more than $5 million through text messages, an amount that eclipsed the previous total for a campaign using that technology.

“I think it’s an incredible story,” said Rachel Wolff of World Vision, which had raised several million dollars. “It’s unprecedented giving in a recession.”

Other aid agencies said that they were not expecting to match the outpouring of contributions that followed large-scale disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but that they were pleased with the volume so far. Some said that the number of gifts was higher but that the amounts were smaller, perhaps because of the economy or because charities have made it easy to give small donations of $5 or $10.

Although it’s too early to do more than estimate the dollar amounts, aid officials agreed that for a variety of reasons — including the extent of the devastation, the depth of poverty in Haiti before the earthquake, the proximity of the country to the United States and the large number of Haitians with family members who live here — Americans have responded with swift generosity.

“You would not have any idea that we’re in this economy,” said Stephanie Kurzina, a vice president at Oxfam America.

The totals do not include the $100 million committed by the World Bank and another $100 million pledged by the United States.

In the first five days after Katrina and the tsunami, more than $200 million was donated to victims of each disaster, said Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Within a year, a total of nearly $2 billion was donated to tsunami victims, and $6.5 billion was given for Gulf Coast hurricane victims.

Gifts have come in a variety of forms — huge checks, micro-donations, new ideas and old shoes. A 12-year-old Alexandria girl pooled the $19 that she, her younger brother and a neighbor had saved from raking leaves and donated it to earthquake relief. Ted Turner gave $1 million through his foundation. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation is giving $500,000 to the Red Cross Haiti Relief and Development Fund.

In the past two days, 11,0000 people have joined Oxfam America, an organization that fights poverty and famine worldwide.

New technology has made giving easier than ever. Hundreds of thousands of people have donated by text-messaging. By texting a code word such as “Haiti” to a designated number, people can donate $5 or $10 that will be added to their phone bills.

A big chunk of GlobalGiving‘s donations came though Twitter. Oxfam America officials were surprised by the volume of money it received through Facebook.

Celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, Lenny Kravitz, Oprah Winfrey and Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin, urged people to give, with messages that spread through social networking sites.

The viral pace of donations via text showed no signs of slowing Thursday, said Jim Manus, chief executive of Mobile Giving, which announced that more than $4.5 million had been raised by that means alone as of Thursday evening.

Haitian American musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Foundation, for example, was receiving 10,000 texts an hour. Large organizations such as the William J. Clinton Foundation were launching text campaigns late in the day.

The more traditional ways of helping continued, too. People wrote checks, boxed up rations in basements and passed collection baskets at churches. American Eagle flew the first of several 30,000-pound shipments of supplies including water, food, soap and diapers, and its parent company, AMR Corp., encouraged customers to give to the American Red Cross by offering frequent-flier miles. A hip-hop event at a P Street lounge turned into a Haiti benefit.

The FBI and some watchdog groups warned donors to be careful of potential scams. Web sites popped up overnight, and false text-messaging codes proliferated. Web sites such as Charity Navigator offered lists of organizations with low overhead costs and a proven commitment to Haiti.

Officials at several relief agencies expressed concern that, despite the short-term blitz of texts and tweets, once the immediate crisis has passed, the state of the U.S. economy will prevent donors from continuing to give.

“Haiti, even in the best of times, is in really dire shape. The needs, both short-term and long-term, are huge,” said Jeremy Barnicle of Mercy Corps. “Will there be the will, long term, to rebuild?”

With Few Supplies, Doctors Forced to Make Difficult Choices; With Hospitals Overwhelmed, Injured Find Care Wherever They Can

Many of the injured in Port-au-Prince, Haiti are trapped in devastated neighborhoods without adequate access to healthcare. Byron Pitts reports city’s largest hospital has become a makeshift morgue.

A Boston-based charity set up a triage center a couple hours outside Port-au-Prince. Those who can make it here can get bandages, x-rays and pain medication.  (CBS), January 14, 2010, by Byron Pitts  —   The largest public hospital in Port-au-Prince has been severely damaged. What used to be the front yard is now a make-shift morgue. The old court yard at General Hospital is now the trauma unit.

We stopped counting patients at 300 — more than 300 stories of pain and suffering and one trauma doctor, reports CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts.

“How are you supposed to take care of people by yourself?” Pitts asked Dr. Tyrone Gill.

“Well that’s what I am trying to do right now,” Dr. Gill said. “I’m here, there, everywhere.”

Dr. Gill is from Jamaica. He flew in late Tuesday.

Gill, who has been a doctor for seven years, says the situation in Haiti doesn’t compare to anything he’s seen before.

“This is like a war zone,” he said.

With no sleep and few supplies, Dr. Gill has been forced to make difficult choices.

Sometimes, by the time victims arrive, he has to amputate because of gangrene.

“Access is very difficult,” he said. “To get here is a big problem.”

Slowly , trained medical personnel from around the globe are trickling in to the contry and doing what they can.

A Boston-based charity set up a triage center a couple hours outside Port-au-Prince. Those who can make it here can get bandages, x-rays and pain medication.

The U.S. government sent 300 medical personnel to Haiti today and has placed 12,000 more on alert for possible deployment.

Doctors without Borders has 800 personnel on the ground, and is trying to get 80 more into the country.

Many Haitians are trying to make it to their own border. Their neighbors in the Dominican Republic have offered free medical assistance.

And for those who can’t make it to medical help, all they can do is sit and wait and hope.

Port-au-Prince has long been a series of shanty towns. Today with too few hospitals and too many roads impossible to pass, many of the sick, the injured and the hungry are virtually trapped in neighborhoods. But they don’t complain. They improvise.

At Union Baptist Church, a local healer tried to mend a broken arm with ointment. The sick and the injured sing.

“God will help us,” the old hymn goes. Many here believe that’s the only help they’ve gotten so far.

Doctors without Borders is expected to have an inflatable hospital in Haiti within 24 hours.

Lilly to give money and medicine to Haiti victims

INDIANAPOLIS, January 14, 2010  —  Drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. said Thursday it will donate medicines and up to $500,000 in cash to aid recovery from Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti.

The company said it will work with non-governmental organizations to donate the medicines. It will give $250,000 for short term relief. Over the next year, the company said it will help in rebuilding efforts by matching donations that are made by U.S. employees. Lilly will give up to $250,000 in matching contributions.

Sponsored by the

partnering with

Text to: – 90999 With the message: Haiti

This is an automatic donation of $10 (charged to your cell)

You will get a text reply from the American Red Cross, Asking for your text reply of

Yes…………to confirm your $10 donation.


Haiti Earthquake Relief: More Ways You Can Help

The U.S. State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747 1-888-407-4747

  • The American Red Cross is pledging an initial $200,000 to assist communities impacted by this earthquake. They expect to provide immediate needs for food, water, temporary shelter, medical services and emotional support. They are accepting donations through their International Response Fund.
  • UNICEF has issued a statement that “Children are always the most vulnerable population in any natural disaster, and UNICEF is there for them.” UNICEF requests donations for relief for children in Haiti via their Haiti Earthquake Fund. You can also call 1-800-4UNICEF 1-800-4UNICEF.
  • Donate through Wyclef Jean’s foundation, Yele Haiti. Text “Yele” to 501501 and $5 will be charged to your phone bill and given to relief projects through the organization.
  • Operation USA is appealing for donations of funds from the public and corporate donations in bulk of health care materials, water purification supplies and food supplements which it will ship to the region from its base in the Port of Los Angeles. Donate online at, by phone at 1-800-678-7255 1-800-678-7255 or, by check made out to Operation USA, 3617 Hayden Ave, Suite A, Culver City, CA 90232.
  • Save The Children has launched an emergency relief effort for Haiti. Donate to their fund to provide medical attention and clean water to children and families.
  • International Medical Corps is assembling a team of first responders and resources to provide lifesaving medical care and other emergency services to survivors of the earthquake. The IMC previously helped recovery efforts after September 2009’s earthquake in Sumatra, Indonesia, and the massive 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Donate to the International Medical Corps through their 24-hour hotline at 800-481-4462 800-481-4462
  • Partners In Health reports its Port-au-Prince clinical director , Louise Ivers, has appealed for assistance: “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS… Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs supplies, pain meds, bandages. Please help us.” Donate to their Haiti earthquake fund.
  • As a UN Special Envoy to Haiti, Bill Clinton appeared on CNN on Wednesday to ask for further assistance in bringing relief to populations on the ground. You can donate through the Clinton Foundation or text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10.
  • Mercy Corps is sending a team of emergency responders to assess damage, and seek to fulfill immediate needs of quake survivors. The agency aided families after earthquakes in Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year. Donate online, call 1-888-256-1900 1-888-256-1900 or send checks to Mercy Corps Haiti Earthquake Fund; Dept NR; PO Box 2669; Portland, OR 97208.
  • Doctors Without Borders is on the ground and has set up clinics to treat injured in Haiti. Donate any amount so they can keep their efforts going.
  • Direct Relief is committing up to $1 million in aid for the response and is coordinating with its other in-country partners and colleague organizations. Their partners in Haiti include Partners in Health, St. Damien Children’s Hospital, and the Visitation Hospital, which are particularly active in emergency response. Donate to Direct Relief online.
  • Oxfam is rushing in teams from around the region to respond to the situation to provide clean water, shelter, sanitation and help people recover. Donate to Oxfam America online.
  • The UN World Food Programme is gathering all available resources to deliver food to the recently homeless and impoverished in Haiti. Donate now to help bring food to those affected as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • The Baptist Haiti Mission is operating an 82-bed hospital that is “overflowing with injured.” Donate online to BHM and 100% of your donation will go to the relief effort.
  • International Medical Corps is assembling a team of first responders and resources to provide lifesaving medical care and other emergency services to survivors of the earthquake. Donate online.
  • Following the earthquake, Catholic Relief Services made an immediate commitment of $5 million for emergency supplies. They are distributing food and relief supplies, and importing plastic sheeting, mosquito nets and water purification tablets from the Domincan Republic. Donate to Catholic Relief Services to assist in these efforts.
  • Give to the American Jewish World Service’s Earthquake Relief Fund.
  • CARE is deploying emergency team members to Port-au-Prince today to assist in recovery efforts. They’re focusing their efforts on rescuing children who may still be trapped in schools that collapsed. Donate to CARE.
  • Orphans International America reports that they have been able to make contact with their program director in the town of Jacmel, a city about 20 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince that houses OI’s hospitals and schools. Orphans International America is attempting to gather food, clean water and emergency medical supplies to Jacmel. You can contribute to them through PayPal.
  • The International Rescue Committee is deploying an emergency response team to Haiti to deliver urgent assistance to earthquake survivors and to help overwhelmed local aid groups struggling to meet the immense emergency needs. They will focus on critical medical, water and sanitation assistance. Donate to the IRC Haiti Crisis Fund.
  • NetHope is coordinating its response with its NGO member agencies and with the UN’s Emergency Telecom Cluster to establish connectivity in Haiti. Seventeen of NetHope’s members are already providing aid and deploying resources on the ground. Donate online.
  • The Haitian Health Foundation is still assessing the situation of their full-time facilities and staff in Haiti. They regularly provide health care, development and relief to rural mountain villages in Haiti. Donate to the Haitian Health Foundation.
  • World Vision has more 370 staff in the country. Staff members from less-affected regions of Haiti are mobilizing, and World Vision’s global experts are expected to arrive in the disaster zone as soon as possible. Donate to World Vision.
  • The Jewish Federations of North America is partnering with the American Jewish Joint Distribution committee and have created a dedicated Haiti Relief page for online donations.
  • United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is the UN’s humanitarian fund responding to emergencies like the earthquake in Haiti. Donate online.
  • Friends of the Orphans will use donations to meet the needs of first responders such as first aid supplies, shipping of necessary materials to assist in efforts, and treating the injured. Those interested in helping the relief effort can visit, or call 888-201-8880 888-201-8880 to make a donation.
  • World Concern‘s staff is almost entirely composed of Haitian nationals and will be tapping into private as well as U.S. government supplies to help in the relief effort it hopes will soon be supplemented by cargo ships. Donate to World Concern.
  • Merlin USA is sending an emergency response team out to the region and have subsequently launched an emergency appeal to bring urgent medical aid and assistance to those affected. Donate to Merlin USA.