U.S cell phone users have donated more than $10 million US dollars to Haitian earthquake relief funds through text messages. The American Red Cross says more donations have come by way of texting than in any other disaster.
[Jeff Towers, American Red Cross]:
"In fact right now we are tracking about $200,000 dollars every hour in ten dollar contributions from individuals across the country."
Donations were rising swiftly as the U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama took to the airways urging Americans to give in this manner. Users of popular websites such as Facebook are also urging one another to make donations using their mobile phones.
Donors find it more convenient that queuing up at the American Red Cross headquarters.
[M.L. Robinson, Donor from New York]:
"I find that utilizing this particular way is a lot quicker, you can do it while you are doing other things. You can multi-task. You don't have to wait in a long line to be able to donate or anything of that particular nature."
The donations are charged to the user's cell phone bill. U.S. wireless carriers are letting people know that they will not take a cut from the donations whilst others will not charge for the service.
David Carnoy of CNET.com says this is just the beginning of a new trend but expects text-giving fraud to grow as well.
[David Carnoy, CNET.com]:
"You just want to make sure that it is from a reputable organization. There probably will be some potential fraud in the future on these types of things because with any disaster there are also some people trying to make money of it."
Haiti-born hip-hop musician Wyclef Jean has set up the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. Users can donate $5 US dollars by texting the word "Yele" to 501501. They can also donate $10 USD to the American Red Cross by texting the word "Haiti" to 90999.