With the earthquake disaster in Haiti a few weeks ago, a tremendous outpouring of various forms of aide from around the world has been deployed to the country. Organizations and individuals alike have devoted financial and human resources to help get the country back on its feet. In light of the disaster, technology has come to the forefront and demonstrated the power of world networks. In this case, the use of technology has been paramount in raising financial support for the disaster.
In reality, the capability of organizations to raise money through more technological means was brought to light with the presidential elections last year. One of the leading candidates was able to raise $45 million in just one month using the Internet. Half of these donations were $25 or less. With the disaster in Haiti, an emerging trend has been the use of cell phone text messaging to make donations. One example of this comes from the organization Habitat for Humanity. By using a text message system, users are able to send a text message to a certain number and $10 is donated to the cause. This charge later appears on the user’s cell phone bill.
Technology has done two things that are driving the technology-based fundraising phenomenon. First, it has lowered the barrier to entry to donate. That is, people who are either not interested in, or capable of donating large amounts now have an avenue to give a smaller amount of money. Secondly, it has made the process much more convenient. With a simple click and entry of credit card information, the user is able to donate with ease.
As international business continues to evolve, technological innovations such as text message donations and Internet fundraising will pose new opportunities for international transactions. The easier it is to move money from one person to another, the fewer barriers to trade that will exist. Although tragic, this disaster demonstrates the inextricable union between commerce and humanity.