Organizations are constantly affected by their surrounding environment. When a crisis occurs, it is vital for an organization to respond quickly and efficiently. This immediacy can be accomplished through the use of social media tools. The American Red Cross exemplifies the importance of this technique through their unique use of cellular devices in a campaign to raise money for those whose lives were altered by the earthquake in Haiti.
The American Red Cross did not wait to react to the devastating news of the earthquake. In her blog post, “Non profits: Time to Get Mobile,” Allyson Kapin states that the organization launched a “text to donate” campaign only three hours after the disaster occurred. This campaign allowed any individual to donate a maximum of $10 three separate times by simply texting HAITI to a specified number; the donation was then charged to their cell phone bill. In Alex Palmer’s blog post, “American Red Cross Raises Stakes on Mobile,” Brian Leamy states that he believes this method is the easiest and most straightforward way of donating because an individual doesn’t have to write a check or give out credit card information and everyone knows how to send a text message.
Allyson Kapin states that by the first full day of campaigning, American Red Cross had received around $800,000 worth of donations. By the second day, the mobile contributions totaled to $5 million. By the end of the campaign, around $35 million was raised all together.
In the American Red Cross’ blog post, “There is Hope for Haiti,” Gail McGovern describes that the donations received from this campaign went directly to emergency relief. Around 40 percent of American households contributed to the relief campaign and ultimately assisted in providing food for the people directly affected by the earthquake, drinkable water for thousands a day, tents and tarps, business loans and grants to help 220,000 acquire the means to get back on their feet, and a vaccination campaign immunizing nearly one million people against fatal diseases.
After the success of the campaign for Haiti relief funding, they continued to utilize this campaign technique. The American Red Cross launched another campaign on December 1, 2010, this time increasing the maximum donation amount to $25 instead of $10. This particular campaign was launched around the holidays and allowed individuals to make donations to aid in fund efforts for disaster response, assisting the military, and teaching first aid.
The American Red Cross wrote an article that stressed the importance of using social media to respond to emergencies. The “White Paper: The Case for Integrating Crisis Response with Social Media” describes how social media now goes hand-in-hand with crisis response. The paper also states that the public has grown dependent on social media as a means of sharing and gaining information about crises. Creating a response through a social media outlet is necessary because more and more people are turning to social media as their first choice in communicating about these crises. As a response and aid community, you must get ahead of the trend in order to be effective.