Online Fundraising for Red Cross

In perhaps the best use of the Internet to date, the American Red Cross has raised $44 million online in association with the terrorist attacks.

Most of the money is being raised by AOL Time Warner, Yahoo! and Amazon.com, which are running Red Cross banners atop their home pages that can be clicked to go to pages where online donations of $10 to $5,000 can be made. The companies aren't charging the Red Cross the usual processing fees for the transactions, so all the money being donated goes directly to the Red Cross.

As of yesterday, $44 million had been raised online: $15 million at Yahoo!, $8.8 million at AOL, $6 million at Amazon.com and the rest at www.Redcross.org.

"They came to us and said 'how can we help,'" says Red Cross spokeswoman Devorah Goldberg.

The Red Cross has been collecting online donations for the past four years and raised $8 million before last week. "This is an unprecedented effort in the history of the Red Cross in terms of the volume of donations," she says. "We have a very large online presence and appreciate the support."

The online efforts have also been assisted by thousands of sites that provide links to www.Redcross.org.

The money will go to relief efforts in New York, Washington and the Pittsburgh area, she says.

Yahoo notes that its "high-traffic capabilities" are assisting the effort, since the outpouring of support exceeded the traffic capacity of some nonprofit sites.

The Red Cross has raised $118 million from all its efforts, including $66.5 million from corporate philanthropy and $7.5 million from a toll-free pledge line.

Its fund raising efforts are also being assisted by a number of offline ads, everything from Anheuser-Busch tv spots that started this week to full page newspaper ads from Bank One and Coinstar to radio ads from State Farm Insurance Companies to Spanish language tv ads from Americatel on Univision, Telemundo and Fox en Espanol.