WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on March 18 called on major U.S. wireless companies to accelerate the delivery of mobile charitable donations for Japanese relief efforts.
Mobile donations, which have grown in popularity in recent years, can take 30 to 90 days to be sent to a relief organization while they are being collected through the wireless company’s billing process.
In past humanitarian crises, such as the debilitating earthquake in Haiti last year, mobile companies expedited donations to ensure that relief organizations were able to begin using the contributions immediately to help disaster victims.
Concerns about the delay in remitting text donations to Japan were raised recently by Masaya Uchino, a third-year law student at University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Uchino created an online petition at www.change.org to draw attention to the issue.
The full text of the senator’s letter is below:
March 18, 2011
Chief Executive Officer
6391 Sprint Parkway
Overland Park, KS 66251
Chief Executive Officer and President
12920-South East 38th Street
Bellevue, WA 98006
Daniel S. Mead
President and Chief Executive Officer
1 Verizon Way
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Randall L. Stephenson
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President
208 S. Akard Street, Suite 3700
Dallas, TX 75202
Dear Messrs. Hesse, Humm, Mead and Stephenson:
Images of the devastation and suffering in Japan have touched Americans nationwide, leading to an outpouring of financial support as the scope of this humanitarian disaster has become clear.
Advances in mobile technology have made it possible for Americans to contribute to relief efforts using their cell phones. Unfortunately, while those who have donated are likely under the impression that making a mobile donation means funds are being rushed to the affected area, the reality is it takes quite a bit longer.
In fact, according to mGive, one of the leading mobile donation platforms, it can take 30 to 90 days for mobile contributions to be distributed to relief organizations. This is because wireless carriers first register the donation from a customer, add that amount to the customer’s next bill, then wait until the bill is paid to transmit the donation.
In past global humanitarian crises, American mobile phone companies have remitted donations immediately to nonprofit organizations. In light of the scale of destruction in Japan, American wireless carriers should again immediately remit mobile donations to organizations conducting relief efforts on the ground.
Guaranteeing a speedy transmission of funds will not only match customers’ expectation that their donations are having an immediate impact but will also ensure that donations are rushed to those most in need.
I thank you for your contributions to the relief efforts thus far and I appreciate your swift attention to this matter.
Barbara Boxer, United States Senator