On a recent MSNBC broadcast, host Rachel Maddow discovered a little-known fact about text message charges that marketers have understood for some time. Mobile phone carriers can easily collect "third-party" fees on behalf of charities when subscribers send messages to special "short code" numbers. However, since most Americans use "post-paid" mobile phones, it can take up to thirty days for a donor to see their gift appear on a phone bill.
Maddow spoke on-air with Tony Aiello, spokesperson for mGive, a company that facilitates mobile donations. According to Aiello, many cellular providers take another thirty to sixty days to process customer payments and transition donations to payment processors, like his company. In the worst case scenario, an impulse pledge to help victims of the Haitian earthquake might not result in liquid funds for aid workers until ninety days later.
Credit card donations, on the other hand, process through most agency websites and call centers overnight. With most payment processors waiving interchange fees for earthquake relief donations, making a secure credit card donation online or over the phone can actually release cash to charities much sooner than a convenient text message. Secure websites accepting credit card donations for earthquake relief efforts include:
Federal officials warned consumers this week to place donations only on trusted websites or with established charities. Scammers have already set up phishing websites using earthquake relief donations as the hook to capture consumers' personal information. By making secure donations on any of the above websites, consumers can ensure that their cash gets put to real use in Haiti, as quickly as possible.