Social Media provides unprecedented support for Haiti


The Disasters Emergency Committee’s leading role in fundraising for Haiti in the last two weeks has seen hits on its website jump by 25,000%, Facebook fans increase from 800 to over 15,000 and its twitter influence to be ranked in the top 0.10% of users.

Social media presence has long been regarded by many fundraisers as difficult for charities to directly monetise but people texting ‘GIVE’ to 70077 has so far raised over £161,000 despite being promoted almost exclusively on twitter.

With a staggering £60m raised for the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal to date and almost half the people in the UK having donated. Over £19m has been donated online. Facebook was the 2nd most important source of online referrals after BBC websites and Twitter 5th most important.

In the days after the devastating earthquake peak web traffic reached over 250,000 per day. More than 75% arrived by typing the website name rather than through search or referring sites. The 25,000% increase reflects the change in traffic between 28 December 2009 and 27 January 2010.

DEC Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said:

“With technology and particularly social media developing so quickly there are new and extraordinary things that we can do to engage people in responding to each new disaster. This feels like the first truly digital response to a major overseas emergency and the support we have received from online communities has been amazing.

“The DEC has never seen its role as organising all the fundraising for overseas emergencies but as working with others and helping them to help others. This approach has proven extremely effective in engaging with online communities which want support to develop their own initiative, not just centrally driven activities.

On twitter, @decappeal has increased it’s number of followers from about 400 to over 2,500 but it the level of retweets that is truly extraordinary. Despite its still comparatively modest number of followers has ranked the DEC in top 0.10% of twitter users by retweets – a rank 949th in the twittersphere and only slightly behind several of its extremely well known UK member charities such as Oxfam, Save the Children and the Red Cross which have long established presences and huge supporter bases.

The DEC has also benefitted from an extraordinary level of support from social media users, many of whom have used it to create their own unique fundraising mechanisms.

After the West Bromwich Albion team played a league game in strip carrying the DEC’s website address, Manchester City Football Club supporter @doc1online went a step further and created the #goals4haiti hashtag in twitter. Supporters used the hashtag to spread virally the pledge to donate £5 to the DEC Haiti Earthquake appeal for each goal scored by either side in the derby against rivals Manchester United.

There has also been massive interest in live updates from Haiti in real time from aid agencies and individual aid workers which have often given a unique insight in the situation facing survivors and the challenges facing those trying to help.

Follow DEC on Twitter
Find DEC on Facebook
Donate at, 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’.

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Notes to editors:

  • The research for the survey on behalf of the Charities Aid Foundation was carried our by GFK NOP over the weekend of 23rd – 24th January. The figures also showed that of those who have donated, 55% were women and 45% were men
  • 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.