Silicon Valley tech giants step up to help Nepal quake victims

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Tech companies step up to help Nepal quake victims
Silicon Valley tech giants like Facebook and PayPal are stepping up to help in the fundraising efforts for those affected by the deadly earthquake in Nepal.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Silicon Valley is stepping up to help the people of Nepal recover from the massive earthquake that hit on Saturday.

They're the same websites you might visit to check up on your friends or buy that new album. But now, they're asking you for help. And not only that, they're also helping the effort to reconnect families here with their loved ones affected by that quake halfway around the world.

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Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg himself made the announcement on his Facebook page.

The company's matching up to $2 million in donations made through a button you'll see on your news feed.

Though the dust still hasn't settled from the earthquake in Nepal, charities know they need to act quickly.

"It's really driven by coverage from media, candidly," said PayPal Social Innovation Manager Claim Lorenz.

PayPal processes payments for countless charities. In fact, they've put a link to donate on their homepage and they're running a ticker, tallying the amount that's been given.

"Within the first 24 hours there'll be small blip," Lorenz said. "And then on day two it'll double or triple depending on the disaster. Day after that it might double or triple again."

PHOTOS: Inside the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake

For the next month, PayPal is waiving its processing fee for charities involved in the relief effort. So everything you give goes to the cause.

"The donations we received in the first week or two of the disaster, that is what we use to usually fund the whole operation," said Red Cross spokesperson Cynthia Shaw. "Once the disaster falls from the headlines, people are less likely to donate."

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So for the next few days, the American Red Cross has a prime placement on the iTunes store, part of a long-standing partnership with Apple.

"They have been very generous in allowing us to put a button on iTunes that allows people to purchase a donation to the Red Cross that goes in support of a particular disaster," Shaw said.

The Red Cross now runs one of several web services aimed at reuniting families after a disaster.

READ MORE: How you can help Nepal quake victims

On Family Links you register if you're looking for someone or if you're in the disaster area and want to let people know you're safe.

"In the olden days it would literally be people going to every shelter, writing down names calling other societies, and linking them together," said Shaw.

Facebook has a similar service called Safety Check and Google has Person Finder, which even works by text message.

Of course, Twitter is practically built for disasters. And some of its users have helped aid workers without even knowing.

"A lot of those photos have location information," Shaw said. "So by seeing the photo of a street we can then tag a map and say that road's passable or that road's not passable."

If you're looking to donate, PayPal points out any of the charities that accept payments through PayPal have passed a basic test to make sure they're actually a nonprofit, and actually who they say they are.

But as far as how they spend the money, the Red Cross suggests if you want to get that in-depth, you might want to check with the Better Business Bureau, which keeps tabs on how a lot of these organizations are run.

Click here to find out how you can help the victims in Nepal, and click here for full coverage on the devastating quake.