The response to the Help Haiti appeal has been a truly global phenomenon – the help, money and support for the stricken country has flooded in from all around the world. Nobody could fail to be moved by the media images including stories of hope and human endurance which have flashed onto our television screens over the past few weeks.
The George Clooney-organised, celeb-fest telethon ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ has shattered all previous US records for telethon fund raisers. It has raised over $58 million so far with the total rising daily. Apart from the traditional ways of raising money, much of the donations have been driven by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
The Red Cross has raised nearly £2 million in donations via their text message campaign – people text a number to get a donation added to their mobile phone bill. The idea is simple and removes the need for Pay Pal accounts and credit cards. The Haiti-born singer Wyclef Jean has also made use of this technology on his personal blog.
Twitter@RedCross is keeping donors and potential donors updated about the amount raised and most importantly how the money is helping the people of Haiti.
Celebrities are also getting involved with the social media side of money-raising efforts, The US TV star Alyssa Milano has issued ‘Tweet Challenges’ asking big corporations to match donations made by the public.
On Facebook, over 91,000 people have joined the group “Every person that joins we will donate $1 to help people in Haiti’.
All these things made me think about how we interact in times of trouble and the cross over between mainstream and social media. The world definitely feels smaller; there are so many ways people can contribute funds, moral support, first hand experiences, photos or simply opinions. That’s got to be a good thing.
Unlike the bulk of the Aurora team, I was a self-confessed social media sceptic, (one of the few people never to have tackled Facebook) and naively initially dismissed it as something for the ‘yoof’ or people who don’t engage in real life, I have found myself increasingly won over. I even have a Twitter account. In particular, the way that the Haiti news story has been reported and the ways in which people have contributed directly shows social media in a different light, it has a serious side and indeed a social conscience.
Please visit the Red Cross website if you want to make a donation.