There’s no need for me to attempt to illustrate the devastation that Haiti is experiencing right now. Just turn on your TV or Google “Haiti” to be flooded with images of desperation and destruction. And inevitably, as you do so, you’ll come to a point where you instinctually ask yourself, “What can I do to help?”
Although you may not have $1 million to donate like Brad and Angelina or a plane to fly doctors from your community, there are small things you can do to lend a hand. And so far, I’ve heard that monetary donations are the best way to help the three million people affected by this disaster.
There’s been lot of talk about the role social media is playing in the recovery and relief effort, providing a voice for many on the ground to share information, images and video while traditional media is powerless. Survivors were able to reach their families to let them know they were alive – in a chilling 140 characters or less. “I’m ok. Can’t call. I’m ok.” Companies and agencies are stepping forward to provide aid and are spreading the word by texting, tweeting and posting.
In the article “Social media a lifeline after quake struck”, John Timpane of the Philadelphia Inquirer says, “Social media are now established tools for aid and relief agencies. From the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to the Iran elections, such media have proved their worth when others could not…Can social media mobilize as much money, blood, blankets and food for Haiti as older means? Too soon to tell. But there’s no doubt: They’re how we connect now when catastrophe hits.”
Here are some cool examples of people and agencies reaching out to their social networks to drum up help and how can help, too:
- According to the NY Post, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon reached out to his 16,000 Facebook fans with a link and asked them to donate money in exchange for an autographed item. By early afternoon today, he’s raised almost $10,000.
- The American Red Cross is raising money through a text messaging campaign – so far more than $5 million dollars has been raised! If you would like to donate, text HAITI to 90999. (I did!)
- Wyclef Jean, a native Haitian, has been rounding support for his Hiatian charity, Yele, via his Twitter account as he arrived in Haiti yesterday. Texting Yele to 501501 donates $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. (Note: CNN Money reports that Verizon and T-Mobile do not charge for texts to make charitable donations. AT&T has changed their policy to reflect the same.)
- According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in the first 24 hours after the disaster, Oxfam America received contributions totaling more than $800,000. At least $10,000 of that came in through a Facebook cause the group set up for earthquake relief efforts.
- Facebook created a Disaster Relief Page to spotlight efforts on Facebook to respond to disasters across the globe.
There are hundreds of other ways to help the relief efforts in Haiti and dozens of credible charities to donate to. Just be sure donate to an organization you feel is reliable and conduct some research first. This article on AdAge highlights some of the confusing rumors about company donations and what companies ARE really doing to help.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected.