BEST WAY TO SUPPORT RELIEF EFFORTS IN THE AFTERMATH OF JAPANESE
EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI
An 8.9 magnitude earthquake shook
Japan on Friday, March 11, 2011 followed by many aftershocks and
a destructive tsunami. The death toll has surpassed 18,000. 33-foot
high tsunami waves hit the northern port of Sendai. Waves surged
across farmland, sweeping away buildings, crops, vehicles, triggering
fires and complications at nuclear power plants. Other countries
with Pacific coasts were also on high alert for tsunami damage.
Many donors understandably feel an
urgency to help victims of this disaster, but it may be wise to
wait until charities assess what their role will be in these efforts.
As a wealthy industrialized nation, Japan has disaster response
measures in place and its government and military will coordinate
and provide much of the necessary relief. The United Nations and
the United States government are also mobilizing support for the
relief effort in Japan and elsewhere in the Pacific.
According to Oxfam-Japan Executive
Director Akiko Mera, The Japanese state has the means to
reach 99% of the population, but there will always be some who
need more specific assistance. Since the government has
the means to deal with the immediate crisis, donors may wish to
wait and contribute to the groups that are able to assist with
the intermediate and long-term needs of surviving victims. Many
people have been displaced or have lost their livelihoods. Ongoing
assistance will be required to relocate and retrain people, and
also to provide psychological counseling for traumatized survivors.
On the day of the tsunami, the director
of Emergency Response for the International Rescue Committee (IRC),
Gillian Dunn, issued the following statement: "Once we know
more, including what the Japanese government requests from the
international community, we'll be able to better assess a possible
response. Japan is well equipped as a responder, and this may
be an instance where aid organizations are not asked to respond
in large numbers. We'll also have to see what tsunami damage might
occur in other countries, including small Pacific islands."
CharityWatch, a leading charity watchdog
that issues letter grade (A+ to F) ratings of nonprofit groups,
announces its top-rated list of charities currently involvedor
mobilized to provide assistance if it is requiredin the
earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan and possibly elsewhere
in the Pacific. CharityWatch identifies the following charities
that receive an A or B grade based on
the portion of their budget going to program services and their
fundraising efficiency. Contact the organizations below for information
on specific relief operations now underway.
Note: Links will open in a new window
Top-rated charities perform favorably
in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program
2) Charities should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.
Contact your favorite charities to
find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would
like to fund, e.g., emergency relief, health care, infrastructure
development, education, etc.
As always, exercise precaution
when donating online. To ensure that the website is legitimate,
verify that the organization's website address is the exact
same address that is displayed in your browser's address bar.
Even the slightest variation (such as the use of underscores
instead of dashes between words) may indicate an imposter.
If there is any doubt, call the charity to confirm the correct
website address. It is best to manually type in the organization's
website address in the address bar because simply clicking
a link in an email or on an unfamiliar website may take you
to a fraudulent website.
Look for a padlock icon (your browser
may use another symbol) on the bottom right hand corner of
your screen to determine whether a site is secure for credit
card donations. If there is any concern about the site's legitimacy
or security, call the charity. Some charities may use an outside
Internet credit card vendor to process credit card donations.
Again, the donor should verify this before contributing online.
SEND A CHECK,
The best way to help is by sending a check. Cash donations enable
charities to buy the most needed type of food, medicine, clothing,
shelter materials and other supplies. By buying relief products
locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and
more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first
contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if
it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after
the 2004 Asian tsunami, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves
and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami stricken nations
with tropical climates, were sent to these nations.
Tips for Giving Wisely
You Need to Know to Donate Safely Online