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SMS Support for Haiti

The magnitude 7 Haiti earthquake of January 12th was the worst for this small, impoverished country in over 200 years.  Donations and outpouring of support has come from a variety of sources with SMS messaging comprising a major portion for the first time.  Whether donors want to pay online with credit cards, Paypal, through their iPhone App Store or via text messaging, there is an legitimate outlet.

Popular examples include Red Cross (text “HAITI” to 90999 for a US $10 donation ) or the Clinton Foundation (text “HAITI” to 20222 for a US $10 donation) or Yéle Haiti (Text “YELE” to 501501 for US $5 donation).  There are many more in other nations, including Haiti itself, with Digicel Haiti offering a short code to help report emergencies and missing persons.  I’ve provided a global list of SMS donation possibilities at the end of this entry.

In a disaster of this magnitude, local mobile operator sites and infrastructure are also severely damaged or destroyed.   Haiti was no exception; however, the 3 major operators there:  Comcel (Voilà), Digicel, and Haitel have all recovered to some degree.  A look at Person-to-Person SMS traffic from two of the operators shows both either going completely down at the time of the earthquake or very soon afterward with traffic resuming less than 24 hours after the event.  Overall, despite immense difficulty and loss of life, the Haitian mobile operators have done an admirable job of getting this vital communications infrastructure back operational, very quickly.

In the graphics below, the numbers correspond to the number of successfully delivered SMS messages to a large number of operators, outside of Haiti, for each hour of the day, starting at hour 0 through 23.    The brighter the color, the more successful messages sent.  On the top graph, for 01/12/2010, the number 63 corresponds to the number of SMS messages sent from Haiti to other countries during the 16:00 (4:00PM Eastern Time) hour.  Note that in the next hour, the traffic falls off considerably, until it starts picking up again on the 14th.

Haiti - SMS Traffic 2

For the operator, shown below, the traffic surged in the 2 hours after the earthquake, but the fell to nothing, until restored early after midnight on the 14th and continued at rates several times the normal hourly SMS rates.

Hait-SMS Traffic 1

I can only hope that these messages are texts to family and friends, outside Haiti, giving long-awaited news.  In many cases, even when networks are congested, SMS — even international SMS messages can get through.  From the looks of these statistics, they are getting through.

SMS is now classified as a “simple” technology; however, in many situations, it is still the best and sometimes only communications medium to get through.

Updated: 19 January, 2010:  News organizations in the USA are reporting SMS donations in excess of US $20 million via SMS to help Haiti.  I’ve been able to pull together a fairly comprehensive GLOBAL list of SMS donation possibilities from a number of sources (Yahoo News, various web blogs, operator web sites, and supporting charitable organizations).  This is by no means, complete, but if readers know of other legitimate SMS donation methods in countries listed below, or not listed, please feel free to post a comment.

Update 01.21.2010:   The entire Digicel Group is providing short codes in most, if not all of their Caribbean markets, and has raised almost US $500,000 from their fundraising.  This is in addition to the US $5 million that Digicel Group themselves donated to several aid groups, immediately after the disaster.   Both Voila (Comcel) and Digicel Haiti are using the SMS short code 4636 for aid requests.   These are being routed to the site haiti.ushahidi.com and various emergency organizations.   

United States

Text the word “Yele” to 501501 to donate $10
On behalf of the Yele Foundation, the leading contributor to rebuilding Haiti founded by Wyclef Jean
 
Text the word “Quake” to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 52000 to donate $10
On behalf of the Salvation Army
 
Text the word “Hope10″ or “UNICEF” to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of UNICEF
 
Text the word “Habitat” to 25383 to donate $10
On behalf of Habitat for Humanity
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 40579 to donate $10
On behalf of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)
 
Text the word “Oxfam” to 25383 to donate $10
On behalf of Oxfam America, Inc.
 
Text the word “Save” or “Safe” to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of Save the Children Federation, Inc.
 
Text the word “Give” or “World” to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of World Vision Inc.
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 85944 to donate $10
On behalf of the International Medical Corps
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 25383 to donate $5
On behalf of the International Rescue Committee
 
Text the word “Care” to 25383 to donate $10 
On behalf of Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE)
 
Text the word “Live” to 25383 to donate $10
On behalf of Americares, Inc.
 
Text the word “Give” to 25383 to donate $10
On behalf of the MTV telethon
 
Text the word “AJWS” to 25383 to donate $10
On behalf of the American Jewish World Service
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10
On behalf of the American Red Cross in the U.S.
 

Mexico

Text the amount to donate ($100, $200, $300 or $500  to 8888 to donate (Telcel)
On behalf of Fundación Carlos Slim
 
Text to 42484 (HAITI) to donate $50 (Iusacell)
On behalf of Mexican Red Cross
 

Canada

Text the word “Haiti” to 45678 
On behalf of the Salvation Army in Canada
 
Text the word “Haiti” to 30333 to donate $5
On behalf of the Plan Canada
 
Text the word “Hope” or “Monde” to 45678 to donate $5
On behalf of World Vision Canada
 
Text the word “CAHAITI” to 20222 to donate $5
On behalf of the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative
 

United Kingdom

Text the word “GIVE” to 70077 to donate £5 
On behalf of Disasters Emergency Committee
 

Germany

Text the word “HAITI” to 81190 to donate € 5 
On behalf of Aktion Deutschland
 

Italy

Text to 48540 to donate € 2   (Wind, 3)
On behalf of Croce Rossa Italiana
 
Text to 48541 to donate € 2   (Vodafone, TIM)
On behalf of Agenzia Italian Risposta Emergenze
 

Spain

Text the word “AYUDA” to 28000 to donate € 1.2   
On behalf of Spanish Red Cross
 
Text the word “CR” to 5280 to donate € 1.04 (Yoigo, Vodafone)  
On behalf of Spanish Red Cross
 

France

Text the word “HAITI” to 80,222 to donate € 1 
On behalf of French  Red Cross
 

Denmark

Text the word “KATASTROFE” to 1277 to donate 150 kr
On behalf of Red Barnet
 

Austria

Text the amount to donate to 0664 660 0020
On behalf of Austrian Red Cross
 

Sweden

Text the word “akut” to 72900 to donate 50kr
On behalf of the Swedish Red Cross
 
Text the word “STAR” to 72930 to donate 200kr
On behalf of the Star of Hope
 
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2 Comments

  1. thank you for this comprehensive list of SMS donation shortcodes in different countries.
    we will pass it on to the NGOs we are working with for haiti.
    we would also like to let you know that telephone.com is now free to haiti.
    if you know of any people or organizations that can benefit from this, please pass it on.

    - All SMSes sent to Haiti are FREE of charge. users can send SMSes from anywhere to Haitian numbers for free.
    - All SMSes that are sent FROM Haiti, TO Haiti are also free.
    - any Haitian mobile subscriber gets $3 worth of FREE international SMSes when they sign up to Telephone.com using their Haitian mobile number
    - NGOs dealing with the relief effort are offered a 10% discount on all Telephone.com wallet recharges

    here is a blog post with more details about this initiative: http://bit.ly/4Vi7f7

    again thanks for the comprehensive list of sms shortcodes.
    twitter.com/telephonedotcom

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