Japan earthquake and tsunami: How to help

Following Japan's worst earthquake on record, Japan has accepted help from 15 countries. Dozens more have offered aid. Here's how you can help.

Kyodo News/AP
Evacuees gather around the candlelight at a blacked out shelter Monday, in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan's northeast coast March 11 – one of the largest in recorded history – has created an ongoing humanitarian crisis there.

For those who want to help, the Center for International Disaster Information offers the following advice:

"Financial contributions provide immediate assistance and allow professional relief organizations to purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster victims. A cash donation helps relief organizations respond in a flexible, timely and cost-efficient manner – ultimately providing greater help to those in need. Cash contributions further enable responders to pay for the transportation necessary to distribute those critical supplies. Unlike in-kind donations such as clothing or canned foods, cash donations require no transportation or storage costs. In addition, cash donations allow relief supplies to be purchased at locations as close to the disaster site as possible."

Where to start: An Associated Press story cautions donors on how to avoid scams when donating. Watch out for emails or unsolicited phone calls. It also Includes a list of US based organizations accepting donations for Japan. The AP story points out that people can make $10 donations via their cell phones: "To donate to the Salvation Army, text 'Japan' or 'Quake' to 80888. Text 'RedCross' to 90999 to donate to its fund set up in response to the disaster."

  • InterAction: InterAction, an alliance of US-based humanitarian aid organizations, offers an extensive list of major nonprofit groups participating in helping Japan, including a brief description of each. More organizations are being listed as they gear up their responses.
  • UniversalGiving: UniversalGiving, a website that helps people give to and volunteer at top-performing charitable organizations that it has vetted, has created its own Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Fund.
  • Network for Good: At Network for Good donors can choose a particular charity working in Japan or spread their donation across all of them.
  • Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund: The Japan Center for International Exchange, in partnership with leading Japanese relief organizations, has organized a 'GiveOne' fund to ensure money gets to organizations working on the ground over the long-term.
  • The Japan Society of Boston: This page is dedicated to sharing comments, requests, and thoughts in English and Japanese. It also provides a list resources on where to donate.
  • Google has established a 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami crisis response page. It includes Google's "person finder" that helps people either look for information about an individual whose is in the earthquake region or to share information they know about someone there. The direct link to the English-language version of the "people finder" is here. Donations can also be made directly from Google's crisis response page to the Japanese Red Cross using Google Checkout.
  • Charity Navigator: If you'd like to know more about an aid organization before you donate, you can look it up at Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator also offers advice on how to choose a charity helping Japan.
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