It's the quickest and easiest way to donate after a tragedy -- texting a quick number on your cell phone to send $10 to a cause.
But it can take 30 to 90 days for this money to be sent to a relief organization, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., complains, and that is far too long.
The hangup is the billing process -- the wireless carrier must wait to send its monthly bill to the customer and get payment back. Only then does the company forward the donation.
"In past global humanitarian crises, American mobile-phone companies have remitted donations immediately to nonprofit organizations," Boxer wrote in a letter to the heads of the big cell phone carriers --Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T.
"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," she urged.
"Guaranteeing a speedy transmission of funds will not only match customers' expectation that their donations are having an immediate impact" Boxer said, "but will also ensure that donations are rushed to those most in need."