Since the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we’ve seen an incredible outpouring of generosity from all sectors of America – individuals, companies, celebrities and a host of institutions who have given their money, their time and their talent to help the victims.
What’s so remarkable and inspiring in the age of instant communications, is how immediately we all came together—the non-profit community, federal government, businesses and the media – to help. Within hours of the tragedy, Americans were asked to do something and once again, they answered the call, demonstrating their extraordinary generosity.
At the Ad Council, we witnessed that generosity first-hand. Immediately following the tragedy, we reached out to the White House and the American Red Cross to offer our help. Within three days of the earthquake we had a television PSA featuring First Lady Michelle Obama on the air urging Americans to give to the Red Cross. We also had the privilege of partnering with former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for a PSA to help raise awareness of their newly established Clinton Bush Haiti Relief Fund.
And just last Friday we collaborated with the Creative Artists Agency Foundation and the Red Cross to launch another PSA that featured Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Morgan Freeman, Reese Witherspoon, Tim McGraw and Jake Gyllenhaal.
To accomplish all this meant film crews, editing houses, ad agencies and media companies dropped everything and worked tirelessly for free. And we’ve seen this generosity repeated over and over again these past 10 days. Last Friday’s MTV networks-sponsored George Clooney telethon raised $61 million for the Hope for Haiti Now is just one great example.
As a result of our collective efforts, Americans have opened their wallets to help the people of Haiti rebuild their lives. And we’re changing the way we do it – in figures released by the Mobile Giving Foundation, Americans used their cell phones to send text messages pledging more than $30 million for Haitian relief efforts. While giving by Web, phone, mail or in person was still strong, we can’t ignore this new avenue for tapping into our collective goodwill.
This initial outpouring of support is just the beginning for Haiti and now we all need to think long-term once the images fade from our TV sets, computers and newspapers. But I’m confident we will do just that – we’re certainly off to an inspiring start.