Connected charity

Connected charity

: Witness the phenomenal response to Amazon’s call for tsunami charity — $3.5 million at midnight — the Washington Post notes a fundamental shift in how charity works, thanks to online.

Like never before, people are turning to the Internet to donate money, the latest step in a revolution that has altered everything from shopping to presidential campaigns.

“This is like 1951, when television really took off,” Paul Saffo, director of the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the Future, said yesterday. “We are in the middle of a fundamental shift from mass media to the personal media of computers and the Internet, and charitable giving is a logical progression.”

At alone, more than 53,000 people had donated more than $3 million by yesterday evening after the company made an urgent appeal on its home page. Catholic Relief Services was so overwhelmed with Web traffic that its site crashed. Online donations to the Red Cross outstripped traditional phone banks by more than 2 to 1….

Much of that giving came from people sitting at their computers. That has happened before, primarily after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But relief officials said the scale of online giving has grown dramatically since then….

“It definitely came as a groundswell from our employees,” said spokesman Craig Berman. “As soon as it went up, we started seeing donations kick in. It was virtually instantaneous.”

The only other time made a similar posting was after Sept. 11, when it raised more than $6.8 million.