The rise of mobile giving during the Haiti earthquake relief effort two years ago appears to have had a lasting effect on the popularity of SMS donations, according to results of a new survey released today by the Pew Research Center.
More than half of respondents – 56 percent – who sent donations by text message to aid victims of the 2010 disaster in Haiti continued to give by SMS for more recent relief efforts, such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March.
Mobile donors also encouraged their friends and family to give by SMS, with 43 percent of respondents asking people close to them to give to various text message campaigns for Haiti.
“It clearly confirms what we know about mobile – that it’s an interactive channel and that it’s the best response mechanism for donor engagement,” says Jim Manis, chairman and CEO of the Mobile Giving Foundation.
Mobile giving campaigns through charitable organizations including the Red Cross contributed more than $43 million for Haiti earthquake victims in the months following the disaster. The relief efforts for the Haiti earthquake helped raise the profile of mobile donations, which have since become a popular way to give to other campaigns.
Pew researchers found that a substantial majority of mobile donors did not vet the organizations they donated to, or donated with “minimal background research.” Nearly 90 percent heard about the Text to Haiti effort on television, and half donated immediately upon learning about the campaign.
Manis appeared unconcerned about donor’s lack of knowledge about the campaigns they were contributing to. The Mobile Giving Foundation reviews campaigns to make sure they’re reputable and comply with laws and regulations.
“Because we control the donation, it puts the obligation on us to vet the charities that can use mobile to get donations,” he says. “What they’re talking about is making sure we do our job.”
The Pew study conducted telephone surveys with 863 people who used SMS to contribute to Haiti and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.