Donate to Japan Quake Relief

Japan Earthquake 2011: Where To Donate

- A list of best charities and organizations for earthquake relief donations - Effectiveness rated by Charity Navigator - Site updated 4/11/2011
Photos courtesy of U.S. Navy, Yuichiro Haga (CC 2.0) Roberto Maxwell (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Top Recommended Choice (if you have no time to read)

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Click here to donate DIRECTLY to the Japanese Red Cross through Google
Click here to donate DIRECTLY to the Japanese Red Cross through Paypal
Charity Navigator Rating: N/A (non-American organization)
Red Cross Japan (Japanese language site here) is already on the ground conducting relief efforts, having sent out over 700 doctors embedded in more than 100 teams.  Red Cross Japan has been in operation since 1877 with a large force, ample labor and talent resources, equipment such as mobile support stations, and centers of operations such as hospitals spread throughout Japan.  They draw from some ~2 million volunteers spread around the country.  Moreover, the Japanese Red Cross is trained for radiation disasters such as the one that has affected tens of thousands of residents who live within the 20 mile (30 km) radius of the Fukushima reactors.  If you're outside the country, you'll have great trouble donating because their website is set up to require a Japanese bank account/credit card.  Note: The Japanese Red Cross is warning on their home page that everyone should be aware that phishing scams purporting to represent the organization have popped up in recent days.
    According to the newspaper Asahi, on March 24th 2011, a full 13 days after the quake the toll stands at more than 10,000 dead, another 17,000 missing, and some 240,000 who remain refugees.  The Japanese Red Cross continues to minister aid to these hundreds of thousands of people who cannot return or who no longer have their homes.  
    日本人の方:こちらで日本赤十字社が関東大震災義援金を受け付けています。
(Updated: 4/11/2011)

Highly Recommended Choices

Foreword

    As you most likely now know, on March 11th, 2011, Northeastern Japan was devastated by a massive quake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale.  Below you will find a list of more links to humanitarian organizations who have already mobilized people or are very near mobilizing to provide relief and help to the victims of the earthquake, ensuing tsunami and unfolding nuclear disaster.  (Contact me if you know of more organizations who are able to work on longer-term relief and reconstruction efforts.)  Please link to this site to keep up awareness or let me know of sites to which I can link.  There are also some missing sites, such as Salvation Army.  They are working in Japan already but I can't find how to evaluate their efficiency as they don't submit financial statements for public viewing so have opted to leave them out; of course you may donate to them through another channel.
    Although by now (3/24/2011) the situation has stabilized, the state of the 270,000 refugees remain precarious as so many of them have no homes but must live in makeshift shelters (at the moment school gyms and other community buildings that lack substantial heating in the winter weather).  The first responders have started establishing solid lines of support so at least they are able to get food, water, medical supplies, non-medical supplies and small electric equipment to the refugees.  The army has also spent considerable effort clearing debris and opening up roads not only to conduct rescue operations but also to initiate what will certainly be a lengthy reconstruction (in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake of 1995, displaced residents lived for up to 4 years in temporary housing!)  In light of this, please consider organizations that look into long term reconstruction efforts like Architecture for Humanity below.
(Updated: 4/2/2011)
Notes:
1.
You cannot donate to this site directly. 
2.
I've also provided direct links to the organizations as sometimes the donation links are difficult to read for determining legitimacy. 
3.
Be aware of phishing sites and scammers trying to profit from this disaster!  

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Click here to donate to UNICEF USA
Charity Navigator Rating: 4 stars (UNICEF USA)

UNICEF USA is the American branch of the United Nations Children's Fund which has been active in humanitarian projects for over 60 years.  They have set up a Japan-specific donation website, but people may also donate through the Google Crisis Page.  You may be wondering why UNICEF isn't already active on the ground - the reason is that when they move, they tend to shift massive amounts of material at a time.  While many of the other aid organizations here are already working hard, they tend to be smaller scale (with the exception of the Japan-domestic Red Cross).  For example, at the moment refugees on the Libyan border have just received a 47 ton shipment of supplies and equipment from UNICEF.  Coupled with the fact that they are a 4 star organization means your donations will make a strong impact in the very near future within a week or so.  In recent days they have announced they are focusing on hygiene items for women and children as these are currently in great shortage.
(Updated: 4/2/2011)

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Click here to donate to Architecture for Humanity
Charity Navigator Rating: 4 stars

The organization Architecture for Humanity focuses on rebuilding structures or building new structures needed in the aftermath of the quake.  Their work is important because many people have been not only left homeless, but bereft of building structures that constituted their community and business.  From their own blog, they write specifically about the Tohoku/Sendai quake:
"Specifically we will: 
- Support local professionals on the ground to perform damage assessments and provide technical expertise to local agencies to expedite the reconstruction of safe, sustainable housing.
- Provide financial assistance to allow community groups to engage local professionals in rebuilding the cultural and historic fabric of communities.
- Support community groups and local professionals in the planning and rebuilding of civic infrastructure for those that could not otherwise afford their services such as health care centers, daycare facilities, senior centers, arts centers, etc."
    Here is more information on their plans.  And here is a list of their recent impressive accomplishments.
 (Updated: 4/2/2011)

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Click here to donate to the American Red Cross
Charity Navigator Rating: 3 stars

The American Red Cross has set up capability to accept donations specifically for efforts to help the victims of the Miyagi-ken/Sendai (Tohoku in general) earthquake.  The International Red Cross has also stated that it will send a high level team into the country to understand better how services are to be integrated.  On March 15th, the American Red Cross sent $10 million to their Japanese counterparts - so money you donate to the American Red Cross will make it across the Pacific to where it's needed.
(Updated: 4/2/2011)  

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Click here to donate to Doctors Without Borders
Charity Navigator Rating: 4 stars

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) is a very highly-regarded organization of physicians who regularly go into war zones and natural disaster areas to provide assistance.  At the moment, they have 10 people in 3 teams in Miyagi Prefecture.  There are many elderly who are in need of general care, but also many people with acute or chronic illnesses that are suffering in their refugee situation.  From their website:
    "Although injured people had been evacuated by helicopter from these areas, many elderly people were still there, some of whom were dehydrated, the coordinator said. 'The chronic diseases of some of these elderly people are a cause for concern,' Mikiko said. MSF is now identifying specific needs—including oxygen, non-food items, medical items and water—and will work with Japanese authorities to assist these populations."
     Mental well-being of the survivors are also a priority for them.  Read more about their efforts to send in psychologists here.
    One thing to note: these guys are real professionals and are trusted to do good work, but their site says that you can't mark your funds for a specific cause such as the earthquake in Japan.
(Updated: 4/2/2011)

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Click here to donate to Save the Children
Charity Navigator Rating: 4 stars

Save the Children estimates that some 100,000 children have been displaced from their homes, some with their families yet others separated.  In general, Save the Children focuses specifically on children who have been psychologically and physically damaged by the quake, fires, tsunami, explosions and collapse of buildings.  Your donation goes toward providing immediate counseling services, space for rehabilitation and temporary shelter for them and their families.  Moreover, this organization has started a massive funding drive for £1 million ($1.6 million) devoted to disaster relief efforts in Northeastern Japan.
    According to their website: "Save the Children has staff in Tokyo and heading to Sendai in Japan. Working with the Japanese government's very sophisticated response system already in place, the charity has deployed teams to the most affected areas between Miyagi Prefecture and Tokyo to assess the situation for children and ensure that children's needs are prioritized."
  Read more about their activities on their blog.
(Updated: 4/2/2011)

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Click here to donate to Mercy Corps
Charity Navigator Rating: 3 stars

Mercy Corps has a dual mission of responding both to immediate emergency needs but also providing longer term assistance for recovery.  They are currently partnered with Peace Winds, another disaster response organization who has teams that are en route to the affected areas (Miyagi-ken amongst others). 
   
On their website, they write:  "Two teams of Peace Winds expert responders are en route via road and air to the disaster zone in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture of northeast Japan. Working with corporate and government partners, they plan to provide balloon shelters, which can accommodate up to 600 people, large emergency tents, water, food and blankets. They will continue to watch and respond to needs on the ground in the coming days.  In addition, Mercy Corps emergency responders in the region stand at the ready to support Peace Winds' efforts. The number one priority for the partner organizations is to assess and help fill immediate needs for life-saving basics like shelter, food and clean water. In the longer term, the partners aim to help earthquake-affected families rebuild their lives. " 
    The Peace Winds responders are keeping a blog of their activities here: http://www.mercycorps.org/japanearthquake
(Updated: 4/2/2011)

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Click here to donate to Operation Blessing
Charity Navigator Rating: 4 stars

Operation Blessing has partnered with IsraAid, an Israeli humanitarian organization with whom it has worked in the aftermath of the Haiti quake.  It bills itself as a first responder and the 6th largest such organization in the world.  One notable point is that it has been rated a 4-star operation, the highest possible, but Charity Navigator.  Operation Blessing is a Virginia-based organization but is sending a team that is based currently in the Philippines. 
    According to their website: "The Operation Blessing-IsraAid teams are currently staging at the Operation Blessing Philippines office located in Manila, preparing their gear and supplies until they are ready to deploy in the coming days.  OBI is also poised to send medical and humanitarian relief supplies from locations in the U.S.A. either by ship or aircraft, and possibly deploy additional personnel from the Philippines and other locations into the hard-hit area. "

    Operation Blessing has a very interesting post about how they have been driving through the devastated areas.
Read their blog here: http://www.myowneyes.org/ .  They've recently been granted access into the disaster zone.

(Updated: 4/2/2011)

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Click here to donate to Global Giving
Charity Navigator Rating: 3 stars

Confused?  Global Giving will solve that for you by being a collector of funds who then disburses it to other organizations on the ground as situation develops on the ground.  Global Giving is a highly-rated 3 star organization that has been recommended by the New York Times, the Huffington Post, CNN, and Time.  They have already achieved a large accumulation of funds and raised their targets from $850,000 to $2 million:
"Funding Information Total Funding Received to Date: $1.1 million
Remaining Goal to be Funded: $900,000
Total Funding Goal: $2.0 million"
(Updated: 4/2/2011)


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Click here to donate to World Vision
Charity Navigator Rating: 4 stars

World Vision is a Christian organization that focuses on helping children.  They send both people and supplies.  At the moment they already have a team that is already on the ground in Sendai trying to understand how to get to the affected areas. 
    Here is an excerpt from their team (3/14/2011 Japan time): "World Vision aid workers in Japan, who also served in Haiti this past year, report that roads to Sendai are clear so far but the team is finding petrol hard to come by, many stations are still closed. Since the main highway is closed to traffic, teams have to take smaller roads, adding time to arrival."

    World Vision has a team currently in Minamisanrikucho, a town that has since become known for the tremendous loss of life (estimated perhaps some 80% of its total population).  The survivors are living in 40 shelters, but are low on food, water and other necessities.
Follow their blog here.
(Updated: 4/2/2011)