The instantaneous nature of social media and mobile communication has created immense opportunity for people to give – and receive – assistance following a natural disaster. As we are seeing with the flooding in Colorado, there are text-to-give campaigns, kick-starter-esque fundraising campaigns, tried and true disaster relief organizations, and countless other ways to donate to flood relief efforts.
Text-to-give campaigns are not new. In 2010, the Red Cross initiated a text-to-give program to provide a quick, easy way to donate to victims of the earthquake in Haiti, and they raised more than $6 million in 24 hours. As you can imagine, providing individuals a way to donate almost immediately greatly increased the success of this campaign. A study conducted by The Pew Internet and American Life project noted “these contributions were often spur-of-the-moment decisions that spread virally through friend networks.”
The Pew study also indicated that 76% of their respondents “typically make text message donations without conducting much in-depth research beforehand.” On Monday during Denver Start-up Week’s opening luncheon, I was given the opportunity to text-to-give to support the flood victims in Colorado. I didn’t ask questions. I sent the text message on the spot, and $10 will show up on my mobile phone bill. I guess that puts me in the majority of text givers!
Another interesting trend made possible by the Internet and made popular through social media is the ability to instantly set up online fundraising pages. GiveForward, for example, “provides free online fundraising pages allowing friends and family to raise money directly for a loved one when they need it the most.”
If you’re familiar with kick-starter campaigns, this form of giving feels like a kick-starter campaign for charity. GiveForward’s home page features fundraisers in need of money to battle cancer, recover after an accident and repair a broken pelvis. GFM friend and client Oskar Blues, which operates restaurants, breweries and a farm in and around Lyons, Colo., has raised more than $17,000 for staff, customers and family impacted by the recent flooding through GiveForward.
Colorado also has a handy online aggregator to help guide people who want to help flood victims but don’t know how. HelpColoradoNow.com suggests that financial gifts are the most helpful form of support and guides visitors to donate to responding agencies that have been vetted, including the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. The site also helps people find out how to volunteer and where to drop off material donations.
So as much criticism as the Internet and social media sometimes get for confusing things during a natural disaster because of the massive amounts of information available, they also provide a variety of ways to help individuals and organizations after a disaster. And for that, those impacted by the floods, and I, are thankful.