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Online donations speed on Tsunami relief

Online donations speed on Tsunami relief

The British public are being urged to get online to donate because their cash can be processed more quickly than through traditional methods. An umbrella organisation called the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) has been set up by a coalition of 12 charities and has been coping with an influx of donations via its specially created website. Many people are using the site not only to give cash but to see if there are other ways they can get involved in the aid effort. Initially, so many were visiting the aid-related sites that webpages were struggling to cope with the traffic. Telco BT stepped in to take over the secure payments on the DEC site and provided extra logistical support for phone and online appeals after it was initially crippled with online donations. The site has so far received almost £8 million, with more than 11,000 donations being made online every hour. Support has also been forthcoming from many high-profile web portals such as Google, Yahoo, Ebay and Amazon who have gathered links that lead people to aid and relief organisations. On its famously sparse homepage Google has placed a link that leads users to a list of sites where donations can be made. Among the 17 organisations listed are Oxfam, Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and Network for Good. Yahoo and eBay are also providing links direct to charities for those that want to donate and in addition the Auction site is diverting a portion of its profits from sales to the listed organisations. You can also buy items that send cash directly to those in the list. Online retailer Amazon has put a large message on its start page that lets people donate money directly to the American Red Cross. The American relief effort is proving as successful. More than $20 million have been donated online to five organizations involved: Catholic Relief Services, Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross-Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and World Vision. Tim Ledwith, director of interactive donor communications at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF said the amount was unprecedented; "We have never seen this much of an outpouring. The generosity is overwhelming.” The reason for such success has become obvious to Ledwith "Once people sense the scale of the disaster, they want to make an immediate impact (on relief efforts), and going online enables them to do that.” Sadly, the outpouring of goodwill has also encouraged some conmen to try to cash in. Anti-fraud organisations are warning about e-mails circulating which try to convince people to send money directly to them rather than make donations via aid agencies. One Canadian student tried to flog the domain name "tsunamirelief.com" for $50,000 on eBay. Those wanting to give cash were urged to use legitimate websites of charities and aid agencies. To pledge your support please visit the Disasters Emergency Committee online.

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