The opportunities to help the Haitian people are numerous, but one technique stands out to me as the "ultimate participation opportunity" for Gen Y. But before I reveal what this brilliance is, we must first identify the problem that existed in Gen Y's willingness to give (and I don't mean the earthquake).
The problem: how can a charity make itself easy to give to? The cause itself rarely is enough. And although Gen Y gets a bad rap as an apathetic generation, we are not. We have a better understanding than most generations when it comes to viewing the world as "one big community."
But, often times, charities aren't meeting the "needs" of those it asks from. No one writes checks, and even online giving isn't doing the job for Gen Y. The fast-paced, multi-tasking nature of Gen Y often is a hindrance when it comes to charitable giving.
The Red Cross figured it out (or at least I'm giving it credit for figuring it out). It is allowing mobile phone users to simply text the work "Haiti" to 90999. By doing this, it has cracked the code to Gen Y giving.
The good people of Gen Y average 740 texts per month, according to a study conducted by Participatory Marketing Network and Pace University. Now Gen Y (and everyone else) can type in 10 characters into their mobile devices and affect a tragic situation in another part of the world. That, my friend, is what technology, marketing, and ingenuity is all about.
As marketers we all know that Gen Y uses alternative forms of communication (although they really don't seem that alternative anymore). But the Red Cross should serve as an example of an organization that puts lightning in a bottle. The right process met the right generation at the right time.
Here's hoping that this program has continued success. God knows that Haiti needs it.