A 48-hour-old fundraising campaign to help Haiti earthquake victims, done solely through text messages, was already stunning Red Cross officials on Thursday when it hit $3 million. By Friday morning, the tally had more than doubled.
The campaign, made viral on networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, had raised $8 million by Friday, according to a Twitter message from the White House that was reposted on the Red Cross account.
The campaign leads a spate of online efforts that have allowed people to help victims of the devastating quake.
The Red Cross campaign’s tally would be double the $4 million that was donated to all charities by mobile texts in all of 2009, a spokeswoman said.
Abi Weaver, spokeswoman for the Red Cross, confirmed that the mobile giving campaign hit the $7 million mark about 11 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s shattered any record that we’ve seen with mobile giving before,” Wendy Harman, social media manager for the Red Cross, said Thursday.
Friday morning, “Red Cross” was among the 10 most popular topics on Twitter.
Many celebrities, including singer Adam Lambert, actor Ben Stiller, cyclist Lance Armstrong and actress Lindsay Lohan, used their Twitter feeds to plead for earthquake-relief donations.
“Yele haiti now for the disaster,” Lohan tweeted Wednesday, referring to musician Wyclef Jean’s online earthquake relief fund. “Please do all that you can. Please.” Yele Haiti also has launched a text message fundraising campaign.
Armstrong, an active Twitter user with more than 2.3 million followers, posted that his Livestrong Foundation had pledged $250,000 to humanitarian aid groups.
The online classified site Craigslist posted a list of relief organizations, including Medecins sans Frontieres and CARE, along with links via which users can donate.Haiti, had nearly 170,000 members.
Many Facebook users also were changing their status updates to reflect when they’d donated to the Red Cross campaign, thus encouraging their friends to do likewise.
Earlier Thursday, when the Red Cross topped $3 million in text and social media donations — it hit nearly $40 million from all sources by late Thursday — spokesman Jonathan Aiken described it as “a phenomenal number that’s never been achieved before.”
“People text up to three times at 10 bucks a pop,” Aiken said. “You’re talking about roughly 300,000 people actually spontaneously deciding, ‘I can spare $10 for this.’ And that’s remarkable.”
As of late Thursday, more than half of all donations to the Red Cross’s Haiti relief effort had been received online, according to a news release.
Harman said the Red Cross has been active on Twitter since the California wildfires of 2007.
The organization also has accounts on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube as well as its own blog, and hosts an online newsroom that provides updates on the organization’s disaster responses.
She said the Red Cross has “a pretty robust social media strategy” but that the Haiti response is unprecedented.
“It feels like every person who has a Twitter account has tweeted about it, which is a pretty amazing thing to see,” she said.