One of the easiest things to do to help people in times of disaster is to give donations by texting. This system worked really well for Haiti, people gave over 25 million dollars and the carriers handed off the money to Haiti immediately. But for Japan, the money might not get there until three months later. Why?
Because Japan has been deemed a non-emergency situation and is under a different policy than what happened with Haiti. Here's the deal. For non-emergency donations, the carriers will only give the money you've donated once they have your money in their pocket, which means they have to wait until you pay your monthly bill (with the tacked on donation) before any money goes to Japan. Some say the process can take anywhere from 30-90 days.
That's confusing, isn't it? One would reasonably assume that if you're donating to Japan the same exact way you donated to Haiti, it would reach Japan just as fast as it did Haiti. If people knew it would take so long, they probably would have donated through a different avenue.
Here is the literature that spells out the difference on mGive Foundation's website, the group that organizes these donations:
On the the mGive website answer to the question, "How long does it take for my charity to receive the funds?"
The answer formerly included the sentence:
"In response to the Haiti Relief Effort, carriers are remitting donations immediately to nonprofit organizations."
But has now been changed, so that it does not to make note of the fact that donations were handled differently for Haiti then they are for Japan, now reading:
"Generally, the typical timeframe for remittance is based upon the billing cycles of the donors. Once you pay your cell phone bill, the wireless carrier pays 100% of your donation to the mGive Foundation. This can take, on average, anywhere from 30-90 days depending on the wireless carrier."
The carriers and mGive probably should have made this clear from the beginning. There's over 60,000 signatures petitioning carriers to give the donation money to Japan as soon as possible. Let's hope it happens. [Network World]