Elizabeth Janis, 22, is part of a new breed of giver during times of disaster.
With a friend missing after the Haiti earthquake, she reached for her mobile phone and texted $10 to the Text for Haiti campaign launched by relief groups. She did no preliminary research, and mentioned the campaign to her college roommates, who also reached for their phones.
"It was definitely a spur-of-the moment thing," she says. "It was quick and easy," and made her realize "you don't need a giant budget to help out."
Janis, 22, an account coordinator for WordHampton Public Relations, East Hampton, reflects the sentiments of 863 respondents in a survey of Text for Haiti donors released Thursday by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Harvard's Berkman Center for the Internet & Society.
"Mobile giving is often an 'impulse purchase' in response to a major event or call to action," said Aaron Smith, Pew research specialist and the report's author. "These donations come from people who are ready to give if they are moved by what they see and hear." Text donations for Haiti were estimated to be more than $40 million, he said.
Among the report's findings:
* 73 percent of respondents contributed the same day they heard about the campaign.
* 76 percent said they typically don't do much research before texting a donation.
* 56 percent have since texted donations to other relief efforts, such as those related to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
* 43 percent encouraged friends or family to give, too.
* 30 percent are age 18 to 29, and 25 percent are in their 30s.
Such donors represent a new cohort of givers, says Ken Cerini, managing partner of Bohemia-based accounting firm Cerini & Associates LLP, which works with area nonprofits. Those in their 20s are socially conscious and digitally plugged in, he says. "How many people under 30 really have a checkbook?"
It's all about a "moment in time," says Randi Shubin Dresner, president of Island Harvest, which is looking into a text-based donation program.
"You want to be in front of the right people at the right time and make it as easy as possible for them to make the right gift."