A Time to Help

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Forget Text to Vote … Text to Donate Instead November 14, 2010

Filed under: Fundraising,Technology — Anita DeCianni-Brown @ 9:19 pm
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On Monday, I interviewed Mark Quandt, Executive Director for the Northeast Regional Food Bank.  This was done in part for my Field Project for my Social and Community Informatics Class.  Besides the staggering statistics on food need, in particular a 25% increase in need from 2008 – present, I was able to find out how one becomes involved to help.  The Food Bank relies on food donations as well as monetary donations.  They are able to purchase food in large bulk, being able to pass more along to the food pantries.


In Kling’s text, “ICT policy analysts must often center their analysis on specific technologies, such as cell phones, broadband, or wireless communication.  What we have learned from SI is that it is helpful for the analytic purposes to move beyond the conceptualization of ICTs as discrete objects and view them instead as configurable “social-technical networks” made up of tangible and intangible components.”  (p. 55)


These components include:

  • People in various roles and relationships with each other and with other system elements
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Techniques
  • Support resources
  • Information structures


When I read this, it brought to mind the new wave of fundraising that is done by organizations such as the Food Bank and other non-profit service organizations.  With the surge of use of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as their own websites, organizations have gone from phone call campaigns to internet campaigns.  People are able to see and have reminders in their newsfeeds to know what is going on within these organizations.  The organizations can do a fairly inexpensive type of outreach to the greater public in ways that are much easier than in the past.  Through the bank, you can check schedules, sign up to donate time, or donate money – 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.


Beginning now, the bank uses volunteers at Crossgates Mall for the Holiday Hunger Appeal.  In discussion with Mr. Quandt, he stated that people carry cash less and less during the holiday season.  Yes, they can go home and make a donation at home, if they remember.  To try to get the donation while it is fresh in the public’s mind, they are introducing a new feature this year in collaboration with a wireless service.  People who are unable to make a cash donation at the moment, can opt to text a donation to the food bank.  They will have small sheets of paper with the information on how/where to text the donation.


In January, when the earthquake hit Haiti, the American Red Cross implemented a Text-to-Donate campaign to raise funds.  According to an article by Thomas Heath of the Washington Post, these donations, by January 19, reached $22 million, which was one-fifth the total raised as of that date.  If the image in our minds of what the destruction could look like, individuals created photo montages of the Haitian world turned upside down, such as this one I found on YouTube.



Heath, T., U.S. cellphone users donate $22 million to Haiti earthquake relief via text, Washington Post, January 19, 2010.

Hope for Haiti video, YouTube, Author LittleCTide:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4IxbTYJv_c

Kling, R., Rosenbaum, H., Sawyer, S. Understanding & Communicating Social Informatics: A Framework for Studying and Teaching the Human Contexts of Information and Communication Technologies. 2005. New Jersey: Information Today.