"Thousands of Americans have pledged $9 million to Haitian relief agencies this week by punching a code and sending a text on their cellphones. But it could be weeks, if not months, before any of that money actually can be used."
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, CNN, and users of Twitter Inc. have urged people to punch 90999 and then type in the word "HAITI" on their phones to send $10 to the American Red Cross. But the money won't be routed from most U.S. wireless carriers to relief efforts until cellphone users pay their phone bills ... 60 to 90 days."
My advice: send a CHECK. Why give the phone company or the credit card company a cut? Why let them sit on your money as long as possible to help their cash flow? In fact, why trust their accounting system to forward all the money? Have Verizon or AT&T never messed up your bill? Really? Never? Mail it directly to some reputable group with a long history, like the American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders. It's a good idea to do it now while you think about it, but if you don't get around to it until the next payday, that's OK, too.
"...no money moves until a person pays their cellphone bill to cover the pledge. The money then is routed through a carrier that aggregates the donations before dispatching them to one of the foundations. Those then move the money to agencies such as the Red Cross."