NEW YORK (AP) — The massive earthquake that devastated Haiti two years ago prompted an outpouring of charitable donations and propelled a new way of giving — through text messages — into the public eye.
A new study shows that text messages are becoming a viable avenue to give and receive charitable donations, even though the amounts people give are smaller.
A nationwide campaign after the January 2010 disaster encouraged people to donate $10 to recovery efforts by texting the word "Haiti" to a number, such as 90999 for the Red Cross. The donation would be added to their monthly cellphone bill.
A survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project asked the people who sent those text donations why they gave, who they are and whether they have contributed to charity since.
Only donors who agreed in advance to be contacted were included in the survey. This amounted to only about 13 percent of those who contributed to the Haiti relief effort via text, so it's possible that the people who were excluded have different attitudes.
With that caveat, here are some of the findings:
— Eighty percent of the Haiti donors did not contribute money to the relief efforts through any means other than texting.
— Most donations were the product of impulse-giving. Eighty-nine percent of the donors heard about the "Text to Haiti" campaign on TV and half of them donated right away.
— Three-quarters of the donors said they don't do a lot of extra research when donating via text message.
— The majority of those surveyed — 56 percent — have contributed to more recent disaster recovery efforts via text since the Haiti quake. These include the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March and the Gulf oil spill in 2010.
— Text donors tend to be younger and more racially diverse than the people who give to charity through more traditional means.
The survey conducted in September and October by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on behalf of Pew, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the mGive Foundation, a mobile-giving nonprofit. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The results of 863 donors randomly selected from those who agreed to participate were included in the study.