This morning’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile and the subsequent tsunami warning for the countries along the Pacific Rim seemed to unfold on Twitter, Facebook, Google and cable television news programs by the hour as the world’s populations woke up to the news. (In fact, as I write this, although it’s past 11 p.m. EST, there are still tsunami warnings in effect for parts of Japan.)
I spent most of the day at work, monitoring the impact on Sprint’s networks in Chile and following our preparations for the tsunami which hit Hawaii this afternoon around 11 a.m. HST. Once it became clear that the tsunami had arrived in Hawaii with less force than expected, I was alerted by colleagues that Sprint would be supporting the mobile giving fundraising efforts of several charities working on earthquake relief in Chile.
As we learned following the earthquake in Haiti, mobile giving is an extremely effective way to raise money. I’m not sure if the donors will respond to the appeals for Chilean relief at the same level as they did with Haiti, but I do expect millions to be raised.
If you have a Sprint, Nextel, Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile USA phone, you can donate $10 via a quick text message at no cost to you. (These messages won’t count against your bucket of messages if you’re on a limited data plan.)
The charities are: Convoy of Hope (Text “4CHILE” to 50555); Friends of the World Food Program (Text “CHILE” to 50555); Habitat for Humanity (Text “CHILE” to 25383); Operation USA (Text “REBUILD” to 50555); The Salvation Army (Text “CHILE” to 52000) and World Vision (Text “CHILE” to 20222).
I’m told that our competitors have provisioned some, if not all of these codes, to be free from standard text messaging charges. (Verizon Wireless has announced support for some of these codes; there’s been no word from AT&T or T-Mobile.)
While the carriers all have to program their billing systems to make this work, it’s the charities which have to set up the keywords with aggregators like mGive to make things work. (Generally, most charities already have established 5-digit numbers known as short codes — the only new part is determining the key words.)
One interesting fact about the key words: spelling counts. While most of these charities used the word “CHILE”, some of them also set up “CHILI” to work as well.
I’ll be interested to see if the public responds.