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Private philanthropy to Japan post Earthquake

March 30, 2011

On Friday, March 11th 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 8.9 and a depth of 15.2 miles hit the east coast of Honshu, Japan. The earthquake was followed by a series of aftershocks of 6.1 and 5.7  magnitudes. Proceeding the earthquake and the consequent tsunami,  a number of fires were reported as well as a substantial explosion at a refinery and nuclear plant near Tokyo. At a time as dire as this, many philanthropic efforts are being made towards Japan, including aid for animals, people, and infrastructure reconstruction The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has stated on twitter, that it will donate $25,000 towards relief efforts. They will also position staff members in Tokyo to work as physical aid for those misplaced and stranded by the earthquake and tsunami. Additionally, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is an organization that gained significant experience in tsunami/earthquake disaster relief by implementing relief and aid programs in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Maldives and India, after the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. Following the recent earthquake and tsunami, JDC has provided disaster relief expertise to the Japanese government while raising funds directed towards relief efforts in Japan. Other donations include:

  • US insurance company Aflac (one quarter of their customers are Japanese) donating $1.2 million to the Red Cross;
  • Kraft plans to donate $200,000;
  • The New York Yankees donated $100,000;
  • Nintendo is donating $3.6 million;
  • Sega is donating $2.4 million;
  • Apple has set up a donations page on iTunes, which allows users to contribute amounts between $5 and $200 to the Red Cross organization.
  • Procter & Gamble has allocated $1.2 million towards earthquake relief efforts including monetary donations, necessities and cosmetics.

These are just a few of the various firms and private charities that are donating to Japan. Recalling the experience from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti (Magnitude 7.0), various blogs and organizations, such as Felix Salmon’s blog on Reuters.com are emphasizing the importance of non-monetary donations, while some sources voice that at this critical point, cash donations are key and will go further. The FBI warns benefactors to take extra precaution when making monetary donations to Japan at this time indicating that “con artists often prey on donors following natural disaster”.  Donors should research and verify organizations and relief efforts they choose to donate to.  Additionally, some sources, such as Bill Easterly’s blog , argue that with Japan being amongst the top largest and developed economies in the world, it does not need a plethora of aid from numerous organizations and different countries. In fact, the Japanese Red Cross has stated that additional outside assistance is not needed as Japan is fully equipped to handle the crisis. Rather than having organizations raise money that may not be allocated where is necessary, the Japanese government is accepting help from specific organizations and countries that have expertise knowledge in earthquake and tsunami relief.

The point is not to take an anti-funding  approach towards Japan, but  rather to to ensure that benefactors raising money for Japan at this time are aware of where the aid is needed and ensure that it will get there. Yet, as many still feel that Japan can use the additional aid, Philanthropy.com lists a host of organizations that are raising funds in relief efforts for Japan. Hopefully, all efforts made will effectively assist Japan in a quick recovery.

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