Text Message Donations For Haiti May Be Delayed Up To 3 Months

It’s quick, easy, and convenient to donate to relief efforts for Haiti earthquake victims by sending a text message, but not such a great idea if you want to be sure that your donations reach people and organizations in need before sometime in April.

Mobile carriers don’t actually submit your donation to the charity until after you’ve paid your bill. Experts agree that the donations will take at least one billing cycle for pledges to reach their destination.

Americans have pledged more than $9 million to Haiti relief efforts using their cell phones this week. $3 million of those pledges are from Verizon customers, and Verizon has announced that they will advance those pledges to charity before customers’ payments trickle in.

According to the Wall Street Journal, wireless carriers admit that the situation isn’t ideal for anyone, and the seemingly overnight proliferation of text-to-donate services leaves them scrambling for a solution.

Wireless companies are touting the role they have played. On his Twitter feed, Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson wrote Friday, “Mobile customers have already given $8 million by texting HAITI to 90999. It’s a new paradigm in charity giving!”

But they acknowledge that they can’t easily “front” the money, before customers pay their bills. Mr. Nelson and Jeannie Hornung, a spokeswoman for AT&T Inc., said their companies are trying to find a solution. AT&T wasn’t immediately available to comment on whether it also plans to front pledges.

If you want to make sure that your donation arrives as soon as it possibly can, donate directly, with no phones involved.

Americans Pledge Millions, but Cash Flow Takes Weeks [Wall Street Journal]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.