Blog Post

‘Hope For Haiti Now’ Prelim Take: $58 Million; Many Sites Drop Appeal After Telethon

A stunning number of networks, sites, cable ops and mobile carriers came together Friday night to distribute the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, raising at least $58 million just that day, according to preliminary numbers via CNN. Repeatedly during the two-hour event, viewers were reminded that helping Haiti is an ongoing effort that will need attention far beyond this initial compelling phase. HopeforHaitiNow.org will keep taking donations for up to six months; the album (already leading sales charts), single performances and video are selling now on iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody. So it’s surprising to see so many distributors literally drop the Hope for Haiti Now effort the morning after, when keeping some kind of front-page presence for at least a few days could have had a halo effect.

One big difference: it’s no longer a promo to encourage people to watch an event but purely a fundraising push. Hulu, Fancast, the broadcast nets, TV.com — it’s as though the event didn’t happen, at least as far as the front page goes. The exceptions I’ve noted so far include MTV (one of the organizers) and the other MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA) sites, Vevo, Gawker, the sites selling the multimedia. MTV’s video includes embed codes, which means it should be easy for other sites to use.

Note to organizers: You did an amazing job in a very short time. I’d like to think this kind of effort won’t be needed again but I doubt it, which is why I hope you’ll do a deep debrief of how it went and what could be done differently next time. We heard from readers who couldn’t get through on the phone lines; the core donation site couldn’t handle peak traffic; the iPhone app worked very well for the event but might as well be deleted now when making some of the video available might sell more multimedia; and so on.