Haiti Relief: How to Use Tech to Make a Speedy Donation

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In response to the devastating 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti earlier this week, many foundations have created simple ways to make a donation to the relief effort via the tech we love. With tech access at your fingertips, you have many different options for making a quick donation toward earthquake relief in Haiti.

Google Earth Haiti
Haiti, before-and-after the earthquake, as seen from Google Earth.

Unconvinced that giving is the way to go? See the collateral damage yourself by viewing Google Earth's before-and-after photos of Port-au-Prince.

Mobile Giving

For a much better use of your unlimited text messages than voting for your faves on American Idol, send a donation instead. Mobile donations provider mGive has teamed up with the American Red Cross and the U.S. State Department to launch a text-message campaign aimed at generating donations. To participate, simply text the word "Haiti" to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross. Your cell phone bill will be directly charged the $10 donation amount.

Musician Wyclef Jean's grassroots organization Yéle Haiti has initiated a similar text-message campaign: Text "YELE" to 501501 to contribute $5 toward food distribution and emergency relief mobilization. Like a donation under the Red Cross program, a donation through Yéle Haiti will be charged directly to your cell phone bill.

Smartphone Applications

If you have an iPhone or Android-based smartphone, you can download several free and inexpensive apps that let you donate directly to a specific organization or find a reputable local organization support.

•·Red Cross (free): The American Red Cross's iPhone app keeps you updated about the organization's activities and provides information on how to donate via SMS.

•·iLocate Charities (99 cents): This iPhone app helps you search for local nonprofit organizations through key words (such as "earthquake" or "Haiti"). You can then navigate through your immediate surroundings to find a relevant charity nearby.

•·Aloqua (free): This Android app is designed for performing searches in your surrounding location. You can use it to find a local charity to contribute toward Haiti relief efforts.

Spread the Word Through Social Networking Sites

Use your favorite social networking sites to let your friends and followers know that you've made a donation, or check your dashboard to for word on how your friends are helping the cause. Charity is infectious: Spreading the word and making Haiti relief a trending topic could inspire others to donate as well.

After donating, update your Facebook status or Tweet about where you made the donation and how. Pepper your friends and followers' dashboards with ways to support the relief effort, and suggest that they do the same. Use your smartphone to access Facebook pages and groups that have been set up for Haiti relief.

If you have a Tumblr account, Tumblr will supply you with direct links to four charities rallying for earthquake relief: American Red Cross, AmeriCares Help for Haiti, Doctors Without Borders, and UNICEF. After you make a donation online, the site will adorn your Tumblr account with a red-and-blue ribbon to signal your support.

Find Your Family

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helps people separated by conflict or disaster find information about their loved ones in order to restore contact. If you or someone you know is trying to get in touch with family members or friends in Haiti, you can log on to Family Links to help locate relatives.

Warning: Avoid Fraudulent Foundations and Online Rumors

Be wary of third-party solicitations for Haiti relief. To ensure that your donation goes directly to a credible and legitimate organization, adopt some practical precautions.

•·Doctors Without Borders warns prospective donors to use secure Websites and methods from trusted foundations. Refer to this list CNN's list of charities that work in Haiti, and you can be confident that your money will go directly toward Haiti relief.

•·The Federal Trade Commission oversees charity fraud in the U.S., and they released a handy list of precautionary measures to take before donating to any charity.

•·To double check the legitimacy of a charity, you can use The Foundation Center's website to look up the organization's most recent IRS tax filing. Sites like Charity Navigator show evaluations of different charities and break down what the charity spends its donated money on.

•·Don't believe everything you hear. Rumors circulating on Twitter this morning claimed that airlines were flying doctors and nurses to Haiti free of charge, and that UPS would ship any package weighing less than 50 pounds to Haiti for free. Neither rumor is true, though you can receive bonus miles through American Airlines if you donate cash to Red Cross.

•·Consider making a donation directly to a hospital or medical center in Haiti through an organization such as Doctors Without Borders or Partners in Health.

•·You can use Google Checkout to donate to UNICEF or CARE, and you can obtain instant news updates on the earthquake relief effort at Google's crisis response page.

•·PayPal and Save the Children have partnered to fundraise for the Haiti disaster. If you can donate to Save the Children's Haiti Emergency Fund through PayPal during the next 30 days, PayPal will waive the payment processing fees for your donation.

Want to share additional methods for providing earthquake relief for Haiti? Feel free to comment below.

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