The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Haiti Fundraising Leverages Mobile Marketing

By Piet Levy, staff writer, American Marketing Association

First Published on
Aided in large part by mobile marketing efforts, as well as widespread news coverage and word of mouth, the American Red Cross has secured $103 million in less than a week from consumers and corporations helping Haitians in the aftermath of the cataclysmic earthquake on Jan. 12.

It’s the highest amount ever raised by the Washington-based charity within six days of a disaster, says American Red Cross CMO Peggy Dyer.

“It has caught all of us by surprise in terms of how much momentum this has had,” Dyer tells Marketing News Exclusives over the phone from the American Red Cross’ disaster operations center in Washington.

A major fundraising breakthrough occurred in the mobile channel, new territory for the humanitarian organization. Following its first foray into mobile giving late last summer, the American Red Cross set out to fine-tune its mobile fundraising tactics by testing opt-in language choices, donation steps via mobile phones and other issues. Those tests ended last week, right before the Haiti disaster.

Within just three hours of the earthquake, the American Red Cross took its mobile donation service live, Dyer says. Well-established relationships with mobile carriers including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as Denver-based mobile donation provider Mobile Accord Inc.’s mGive and CTIA-The Wireless Association in Washington helped ensure a speedy, secure launch, Dyer adds.

She also credits marketing and public relations efforts from the U.S. State Department, the National Football League and others for getting the word out, as well as extensive media coverage mentioning the Red Cross’ mobile donation channel.

Breaking down the numbers, more than 2 million $10 donations sent via text message to 90999 have netted more than $22 million for Haiti relief in a week, Dyer estimates. By comparison, one of last year’s biggest donation-via-text campaigns, an effort for AIDS-relief charity Keep a Child Alive endorsed by singer Alicia Keys on American Idol, earned approximately $450,000.

Most American Red Cross donations still are received online, Dyer says. The organization also is marketing its fundraising efforts via digital video recording service TiVo and has aligned itself with two Haiti relief telethons including the MTV-produced “Hope for Haiti” special airing across multiple channels on Friday, with two more telethon alliances in the planning stages, Dyer says.

The American Red Cross continues to test its mobile donor communications system, Dyer says. An online push slated for March will thank Haiti relief donors and educate consumers about other services from the charity in the hopes of increasing its loyal donation base. Dyer also wants to launch a marketing campaign to inspire people to share Red Cross-related stories online via pictures, videos and messages on Twitter.


Let us know your thoughts
Captcha Image