Mobile giving played an especially prominent role during the aftermath of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake, as individual donors contributed an estimated $43 million to the assistance and reconstruction efforts via text message.

For a sizeable majority of the Haiti text message donors surveyed, contributions were made quickly in response to images seen on television and involved minimal background research. The vast majority of these donors (89%) heard about the Text to Haiti effort on television, and 73% of donors either made their contributions immediately or on the same day they heard about it the effort.

Three-quarters of the Haiti text donors surveyed say that their text message contributions usually result from spur-of-the-moment decisions which do not involve a lot of additional research. About a quarter of people (21%) say that they usually research their text contributions beforehand. Online donations tend to involve more deliberation, as half of these donors say that they typically do a lot of research before donating via this medium.

Three-quarters (74%) of Haiti text donors in this survey were first time mobile givers, meaning that their contribution was the first time they had used the text messaging function on their phone to make a charitable contribution. More than half of the donors surveyed have made text message contributions to other disaster relief efforts since their Haiti donation. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.