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CTIA Wireless Foundation Launches Text2Help For The American Red Cross

BY Justin Oberman | Tuesday, September 19 2006

Txt Donate-Tm Last week at the CTIA show in Los Angeles, CTIA-The Wireless Association® President and CEO Steve Largent announced the Text2HELP initiative, a formal partnership between the wireless industry and the American Red Cross.

Coordinating the effort is the CTIA's charitable organization wing The Wireless Foundation which oversees a number of programs designed to put wireless technology to work addressing the challenges of society.

Through Text2HELP, wireless consumers may text message charitable donations to the the American Red Cross for during times of major disaster response.

The technology had been demonstrated last year at CTIA's show in San Francisco where several cellphone carriers were demonstrating Premium SMS (PSMS) technologies by holding live SMS "4CARE" and "2HELP" fundraisers for the victims of Katrina and the Tsunami. Customers of participating carriers could send a text message to the shortcode "2HELP" (24357) containing the keyword "Help" to make a tax deductible donation to the American Red Cross' relief efforts. Donations appeared on customers' monthly bills or were debited from prepaid account balances. The campaign closed in late October 2005.

As before, the carriers will not take there usual 50 percent from a Text2Help campaign that they usually take even from charities using SMS to raise money.

In the event of a major disaster in the USA such as a Hurricane, the American Red Cross will ask the CTIA to activate the Text 2HELP initiative. Once activated, subscribers of participating wireless carriers can send a text message to "2HELP" (24357) containing the word "HELP." A US$5 tax-deductible donation will be made to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts for each message.

A step in the right direction... but it still takes the ocean rising up and the earth opening for the carriers to be convinced not to take a cut. This leaves out 95 percent of the other charities out there that want to take advantage of the mobile medium.

But its good to know that they are at least thinking about it.

Its not clear if the Wireless Foundation will open up Text2Help to other charities.

Simply put, they should.

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