Another anonymous guest blogger type friend person has this to say viz text message donations for Haiti:

there’s got to be an interesting dissertation topic lurking around the massive shift to texting money in order to donate to a cause. the amounts that have been donated are huge and they have come in $10 or $5 increments, which means way more people are giving than otherwise have in previous emergencies. it would be fascinating to track how people feel about the donations if, in the end, it is true that the cell phone companies cannot disburse the money until one to three months into the billing cycle. i imagine people will be upset, but the irony is that the time immediately after the crush of the onset of the emergency is when funding often dries up and is most needed. it may turn out that this mechanism helps resolve (on a small scale, admittedly) a persisting and nagging problem that all of the various international agencies and financial institutions haven’t been able to tackle. just fascinating.

I think the first step is probably to see if different people (or, types of people) make text donations. If we’re gaining additional donors through this mechanism, that’s important, and good. But we may be steering those who would give anyway toward a new means of doing so; if this is true, we’ll want to know if they give more or less, more or less often. If the set increment of the text donation encourages people to give less than they would otherwise, we need to know if the volume of donations makes up the difference.

Then there’s the question of disbursement, and of course we want to think text donations will be faster than other forms, but perhaps this is only a distinction between check donations and all forms of digital giving (including credit card donations)? Of course, it seems possible that text donations will be another way in which some (large, international) charities continue to reap the majority of charity dollars at the “expense” of smaller/local organizations.

So, who’s on the case?

I was glad to see local high schoolers out by the mall/Trader Joe’s today, wearing Red Cross gear and collecting money in a bucket from motorists but I must admit my first thought was, “receipt for tax deduction?”


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