The text message campaign to aid American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti has brought in a torrent of donations -- totaling about $30 million to date. In the last few weeks, the "Text HAITI to 90999" campaign has gone viral via social properties like Twitter and Facebook and has gotten a boost from celebrities and President Obama himself.
Now a group of mobile ad companies are joining forces to broaden awareness of the text donation initiative launched by Mobile Accord, the Denver company that runs mgive.com and serves as a financial clearinghouse between wireless carriers and nonprofits like the Red Cross.
Through the latest push, mobile ad networks and technology companies including AdMob, Eyeblaster, Jumptap, Microsoft Advertising, Millennial Media and Ringleader Digital are donating time and ad-serving fees to deliver banner ads with details on donating to the Red Cross and featuring the shortcode to add a $10 contribution to their bill.
The ads are running on mobile sites donating inventory for the campaign, including MSN Mobile, Hotmail, Windows Live Messenger Mobile and E! Online. The campaign is expected to last for at least the next several weeks.
"Our approach with the mobile Web is to reach consumers who may not have been reached yet through other media," said Bob Walczak, CEO of Ringleader Digital. "The best thing we can do is get word out to as many places as possible."
He added that the mobile ad companies are also working with Mobile Accord to have a process in place to promote mobile donations in future disaster relief efforts. "This campaign took a few days to launch and we'd like to make that happen faster in the future, in under 24 hours," said Walczak.
Wireless operators such as Verizon Wireless have taken steps to speed the flow of text donations to Haiti. It typically takes up to 90 days for money donated via text messages to reach a charity. But carriers are bypassing normal financial and accounting procedures to help donations get to victims more quickly.