Facebook, Twitter lead outpouring of support for DEC Haiti earthquake appeal

17/01/2010

Social media played a crucial part in raising funds and awareness in the 36 hours following the launch of the DEC’s Haiti earthquake appeal.

Although the TV appeal was not broadcast until Friday evening, £8m was raised online following the first DEC announcement on Twitter at 7.41pm on Wednesday. It said simply: “You're the first to know - DEC #Haiti Earthquake Appeal now live, UK broadcast appeals to follow”

An SMS donation system was launched shortly afterwards and by Saturday morning a total of 148,000 people had donated online. Social networking sites Facebook and Twitter drove the highest number of referrals to the DEC website after the BBC, with the DEC Facebook page counting 10,000 fans as of Sunday morning – a phenomenal rise up from 800 four days earlier. Bloggers showed their support by adding DEC banners and buttons to hundreds of UK blogs.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a tweet to the DEC’s 2,000 followers during a visit to their offices on Friday, thanking donors for their support and reassuring the public that aid would successfully reach Haiti in a timely manner.

DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:

“Social networking has proven itself as a valuable addition to the fundraising machine. I’m thrilled that we have been able to quickly communicate and engage the UK public, who have in turn responded with tremendous generosity to help the people of Haiti who so urgently need our help.

“Their donations mean our member agencies can continue to source and deliver the emergency supplies needed like safe water, shelter, medicine and food. We hope people will continue to give their support so that more emergency aid can be added to what will be a massive humanitarian effort.”

Photograph sharing site Flickr has also been used to host images from the DEC’s member agencies, with 34,000 views of the DEC account on Friday. A video of the DEC broadcast appeal attracted nearly 3,000 views on YouTube.

The ability to pool resources on sharing sites and follow the DEC’s 13 member agencies through newly implemented Twitter ‘lists’ has also proved invaluable to the committee in updating the public on developments.

The appeal follows a magnitude 7.0 earthquake which levelled large parts of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

Many DEC members already had a presence in Haiti before the earthquake so have the experience, local knowledge and links with local partners and community groups to ensure that emergency assistance can be delivered, despite the scale of the catastrophe.

Examples of what donations will go to include:

  • £25 will supply a kit of household essentials.
  • £50 buys a food pack to feed a family for a fortnight.
  • £100 provides temporary shelter for two families.

To make a donation to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal visit www.dec.org.uk or call 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque made payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA’ or text GIVE to 70077 to donate £5. £5 goes to DEC. You pay £5 plus standard network SMS rate.

Anyone wanting to stay up to date with developments in Haiti, the emergency response and the fundraising efforts can follow the DEC on twitter at http://twitter.com/decappeal or become a fan of ‘Disasters-Emergency-Committee-DEC’ on Facebook.

Notes to editors:

  • To make a postal donation make cheques payable to ‘DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal’ and mail to ‘PO Box 999, London, EC3A 3AA
  • Donations can be made at any high street bank, or at a Post Office by quoting Freepay 1449.
  • Text “GIVE” to 70077 to give £5 to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal. £5 goes to the DEC. You pay £5 plus the standard network SMS rate.
  • The DEC consists of: Action Aid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund, World Vision.
  • The DEC criteria to launch an appeal are: The disaster must be on such a scale and of such urgency as to call for swift International humanitarian assistance. The DEC agencies, or some of them, must be in a position to provide effective and swift humanitarian assistance at a scale to justify a national Appeal. There must be reasonable grounds for concluding that a public appeal would be successful, either because of evidence of existing public sympathy for the humanitarian situation or because there is a compelling case indicating the likelihood of significant public support should an appeal be launched.
  • The DEC is very grateful for the technical advice and strategic communications support provided by BT to help us respond immediately to international disasters like the recent earthquake in Haiti. We also welcome the fact that BT are encouraging the public and their own customers to support the appeal.