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The American Red Cross and Microsoft launch the i'm Initiative
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Katie Lawson
March 28, 2007

Recently, the American Red Cross and Microsoft announced the launch of the i’m Initiative, an exciting new partnership designed to provide people interested in supporting the lifesaving work of the Red Cross another channel to do so. By participating in this unique initiative, the Red Cross hopes to raise money for the Disaster Relief Fund and to reach out to a greater number of young people – the next generation of Red Cross supporters.

The i’m Initiative connects Windows Live Messenger users with nine highly regarded humanitarian organizations. By joining the program at http://im.live.com, users can earn money for the organization of their choice each time they have an instant message conversation using Windows Live Messenger. The potential for funds raised is truly limitless, since the amount of money raised depends on how many people choose to support the Red Cross and how often they send instant messages. However, Microsoft will donate a minimum of $100,000 to each organization for the first year of the program. The Red Cross will use money raised through the i’m Initiative to assist disasters survivors by providing them a safe place to stay, a hot meal or simply someone to talk to.

This unique initiative provides people of all ages, young people in particular, the opportunity to make a difference without having to spend a dime. While youth can help people by taking a CPR class or donating blood, if they are old enough, most young people don’t have the necessary means to donate to organizations like the Red Cross. The great benefit of the i’m Initiative is that it allows them to contribute while talking online, something most already do everyday.

Kristine Templin of the American Red Cross helps launch the i'm Initiative.
Krstine Templin, Director of Corporate Partnerships and Cause Marketing for the American Red Cross, addresses the audience and fellow panel members about the i'm Initiative. All funds raised will help the Red Cross help victims of thousands of diasasters across the country each year.
(Photo Credit: Katie Lawson, American Red Cross)

“With the help of the i’m Initiative, anyone can be a philanthropist,” said Kristine Templin, Director of Corporate Partnerships and Cause Marketing for the American Red Cross. “Donors can now contribute to the Red Cross not only in times of disaster, but 365 days a year.”

While the i’m Initiative marks the first foray of the Red Cross into instant messaging, the organization has embarked on other partnerships that use new media and technology to open other donation channels. For example, through a partnership with the Wireless Foundation, during large disasters, wireless subscribers can make a donation to the Red Cross by utilizing the Text 2HELP™ program. Users can donate $5 to relief efforts simply by text messaging the keyword "GIVE" to the short code "2HELP" (24357).

While the fundraising component of the i’m Initiative will help the Red Cross make a difference, the i’m Initiative also aims to make people aware of the extent of Red Cross disaster services. While the Red Cross is most visible after hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes, it also responds to the needs of families affected by destructive home fires every day. The Red Cross helps victims of some 70,000 emergencies every year.

“Chances are a family member, neighbor or someone you know has been helped by the Red Cross during a time of need,” said Templin. “By joining the i’m Initiative, you can help the Red Cross help people close to you, as well as people you will never meet, when they need it the most. Touching the lives of millions has never been easier.”

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. You can make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives.

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