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Haiti: Corporate Sector Pitches In and Encourages Donations

By Susan Carey Dempsey on January 15, 2010No Comment

To meet the monumental need for cash and supplies in Haiti, corporations around the world are stepping up to make commitments; several are also using creative ways to encourage individuals to give. AMR, the parent company of American Airlines and American Eagle, is offering bonus reward miles for donations to the American Red Cross, as well as assisting by transporting supplies to the disaster zone.

FedEx assisted relief organizations by transporting 78 pallets of supplies, and donated $425,000 to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund, Salvation Army, Direct Relief International, and Yéle, Wyclef Jean’s charity.

Yele has been one of the causes benefiting from an unprecedented outpouring of donations via text messages – raising more than $7 million through the support of all four major US carriers — Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — whose customers will not be charged for text-messaging mobile donations. As of Thursday, AT&T said its customers have pledged $2.63 million to the Red Cross, and Verizon Wireless customers have given more than $1 million to the agency. Sprint customers have contributed more than $882,000 in mobile-giving donations, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The mobile giving effort is organized by the Mobile Giving Foundation in concert with the mGive Foundation.  In the Red Cross’ case, phone users can text the word “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10, and when prompted, hit “YES” to confirm the donation.

The donation is added to the cell user’s bill, and receipts are available.

Other text-message codes for donations include:

  • Text the word “YELE” to 501501 to donate $5 to the Yele Haiti foundation.
  • Text the word “HAITI” to 20222 to donate $10 to the Clinton Foundation Haiti Relief Fund.
  • Text “HAITI” to 25383 to donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee.
  • Text “HAITI” to 85944 to donate $10 to the International Medical Corps.

Among other corporate responses, ITT donated $100,000 to Mercy Corps plus 5 water treatment units to provide water for 100,000 people. Goldman Sachs, Google and Coca-Cola were among corporations announcing $1 million donations. DHL deployed its Disaster Response Team to manage logistics for inbound freight at the airport, including transfer and distribution of incoming relief goods. Microsoft announced $1.25 million in cash and in-kind donations, plus employee-donation matching up to $12,000, and said it was mobilizing an employee response team and providing technical support of NGOs operating on the ground.

Walmart, in addition to donating $500,000 to the American Red Cross, provided $100,000 worth of donated pre-packaged food kits requested by the Red Cross.

Target donated $500,000 to the American Red Cross, as well as more than 1 million meals. Office Depot, in addition to giving $10,000 to Doctors Without Borders, sponsored a BCLC Disaster Help Desk for Business. Businesses seeking guidance on how to help and how best to coordinate with NGOs and government assistance programs are encouraged to visit the site.

Responses were coming from the international business community as well. According to the Financial Times, Virgin Atlantic said it was flying key medical workers and relief agency staff to Haiti in its flights to Miami, Orlando and Jamaica during the coming days, while British Airways said it was preparing a Boeing 747 with capacity for up to 50 tons of cargo to fly to Haiti on Saturday.

Denis O’Brien, the Irish owner of Digicel Group, Haiti’s largest mobile phone provider, pledged $5 million. Digicel said it wanted to send extra technicians to the island to work on its network, although on Thursday the company’s head of public relations, Antonia Graham, reported that: ‘We’ve been trying to get into Haiti but our plane got turned back because the airport’s full.’

Other corporate donations include bottled water from Nestlé, medicines from drugmakers Abbott and AstraZeneca, and a $500,000 pledge from Unilever to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

To learn more about the growing response from the American corporate sector, which has surpassed $31 million in these past few days, please visit Business Civic Leadership Center’s corporate response page. You can also follow @BCLC on Twitter.

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