Is Texting donations to a charity SAFE?

textingdonationscancerfairygodmother.comBy now, most of us have most likely seen or heard many appeals for monetary donations to aid the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Have you noticed that more and more organizations are using social networking sites, and that your friends on Facebook are urging you to send a specific text to a certain number, claiming the money will go directly to a charity?

How do text donations work?
A charitable organization registers with a donations processor, who in turn cooperates with the cell phone providers to add the agreed up set donation amount to the users’ cell phone bill. The popularity of text donations has increased rapidly over the past few years. From $200,000 in response to the Tsunami (December 2004), to $400,000 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (August 2005), to an astonishing $3 million in the first full day since text donations have been set up to aid victims in Haiti. The American Red Cross has already raised close to $4 million, a substantial amount of that total coming in via text donations.

Many inquiries from concerned donors about this practice, and we have some more information for you. First, we found out via this excellent article on the topic by Richard Mullins of the Tampa Tribune that several text donations processors (MGive for example) are waiving the administrative fees that they typically charge. However, you may want to double check this with the charity of your choice before pushing the ‘send’ button.

Second, as with all your donations, please make sure you have done your research. While it may be a very convenient and efficient way to donate a small amount of money, you still need to feel confident that you are supporting a charity you believe is legitimately impacting the situation in Haiti. Of course, you can always check out Charity Navigator’s list of vetted organizations, or donate to one of the following Charity Navigator rated charities:

  • Text “Haiti” to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of The Clinton Foundation (former President Clinton is Special Envoy to Haiti) – 4stars
  • Text “Haiti” to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee. – 4stars
  • Text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 on behalf of the Red Cross in the U.S.- 3stars

So, should you drop your online or mail donation for a text donation? It depends. Phone carriers may have a maximum limit that you can donate on a monthly basis, so if you are in a position to donate more than $20 – $25 at this point, you may be better of donating via a reputable organization’s website (or donate directly to that organization via our website). While processing fees for online donations have not been waived at this point, a larger donation may offset the associated fees that come with any donation.

It always great to give from you heart…but is also wise to check out where and how your money is being spent.

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