Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to Help: Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Efforts Gaining Steam

As with many other natural disasters, the US Navy is leading the way - sending a carrier task force to assist with the logistical and relief efforts. But they are hardly alone.
Japan has received offers of assistance from 14 international organizations and 102 countries (including a number of unexpected aid donors such as embattled Afghanistan and poverty-stricken Cambodia), according to the latest report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Hollywood is by and large stepping up. Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 have gone and found ways to donate to relief efforts. They're auctioning off a bunch of Blink 182 items, and one of them is now fetching over $20,000. His other listings are here.

Simon Cowell and Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and others are planning a relief single. Lady Gaga has been selling a Japan prayer bracelet with all proceeds going to earthquake relief efforts.

Many charitable and disaster relief organizations now take donations via text messages:
The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are among the groups accepting $10 donations via text message.

To donate to the Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, text "Japan" or "Quake" to 80888.

Text "RedCross" to 90999 to donate to its fund set up in response to the disaster. The American Red Cross is coordinating with its Japanese counterpart, which is leading the organization's efforts in the disaster area.

Still a relatively new way to accept donations, texting took off last year after the earthquake in Haiti. The Red Cross said more than 3 million contributors used text messages to donate $32 million to relief efforts following the Port-Au-Prince quake.

For those who want to offer donations directly to charitable organizations directly, here are a few notable links (and far from inclusive - if you have others, leave them in the comments). Note too that some charities have not set up a separate donation path for the Japanese disaster:

I've donated to the American Red Cross in the past, but have donated to Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontiers) in response to recent overseas natural disasters because the group has low overhead and directs 85% of the donations to actual services - but MSF has not set up a separate donation path for the tsunami relief as yet.

Also, if you are working for a company that does a charitable donation match, be sure to take advantage of those opportunities to maximize your charitable giving. Keep your receipts as well since not only can you bring some relief to those in need, but you might be able to take advantage of your donations during the 2011 tax year filing (returns due April 2012).

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