A locally based humanitarian group is taking a tech-savvy approach to raise money for Haiti, using text messages and social networking sites to attract donations.
Direct Relief International, a major international distributor of medical aid headquartered in Goleta, will send a massive shipment of medical supplies to the Caribbean nation this week, after a 7.0 scale earthquake devastated the poverty stricken nation last week. Direct Relief has already raised over $2 million in aid for the country, which has suffered somewhere between 65,000 and 200,000 casualties.
The nonprofit group began raising money for victims last week, sending its first shipment of medical supplies Friday. The organization’s charity efforts have relied heavily on social networking Web sites like www.reddit.com, as well as text messaging.
Direct Relief spokesman Jim Prosser said the group has even set up a Web site that allows users to create fundraising pages for other Web sites called tribute funds.
“These tribute funds are perfect for groups like fraternities and sororities looking for a way to host their own fundraiser, complete with goals, benefits and events,” Prosse said.
Those looking to contribute can also donate $10 by sending a text message to “GIVE10” to 20222. Tribute funds can be created by visiting dri.convio.net/tributes.
Direct Relief is also reaching out to social media sites to raise money. Social news site reddit.com has already raised over $150,000 for Direct Relief. Reddit.com co-founder Alexis Ohanian said online fundraising has been significant.
“Technology has made it possible for those who donate to have the ability to see exactly where their donations are going through videos, interviews and pictures so people demand transparency,” Ohanian said.
Direct Relief will also be holding a benefit at Epiphany Restaurant and Bar tonight. Proceeds from all drinks will go to disaster response efforts in Haiti.
The organization is already working on a second shipment of aid for Haiti. Prosser said supplies are being flown by FedEx to the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
”The shipments consist of a lot of things to deal with blunt trauma caused by falling debris: gauze, bandages, disinfectants, broad-spectrum antibiotics, along with necessities such as personal care and sanitary products,” Prosser said.
UCSB alumnus and Direct Relief intern Mark Semegen said all of the nonprofit’s fundraising is being directed toward Haiti.
“We donate 100 percent to the people of Haiti; no administrative costs will be taken out of what is donated,” Semegen said.
Direct Relief was founded in 1948. Locally based, the group has been sending money to Haiti since 1964.