Mar 16

Japan and Beyond: Advice for donating after disasters

Thanks to JET alum Jim Gannon (Ehime), Director of the New York office of the Japan Center for International Exchange, for sharing this very helpful and informed Huffington Post article:

Japan and Beyond:  Advice for donating after disasters

Saundra Schimmelpfennig, Founding Director, The Charity Rater, LLC

he following is a series of dos and don’ts to help you make the best donation decisions after a disaster, like the current crisis in Japan.

Do determine if the country is accepting international assistance
With all the photos and videos of destruction on the evening news, it may seem impossible that governments would not want outside assistance. However, just because there has been a disaster does not mean that the local government and local aid organizations are not capable of reaching and helping those in need. Before sending your donation find out what, if any, assistance the government is allowing. Check to see if the aid organization you’re considering donating to is offering that same type of assistance.

Do look at a variety of nonprofits before giving
There are hundreds of organizations that respond to most disasters, take the time to evaluate a few before giving. Also, just because they have name recognition does not mean they’re best able to respond to the disaster. Look for organizations that were operating in the country before the disaster, they will be able to respond more quickly and know the local culture, politics and needs better. Giving to local organizations is great, unfortunately they can be difficult to find and may not have a website or if they do, it may not be in English.

Places to find lists of organizations involved in the recovery efforts include:

InterAction for many U.S. organizations for organizations from many different countries
Dochas for Irish aid organizations

Do look for organizations with prior experience and expertise
There is a great deal of money after well-publicized disasters. The ease of raising money makes it tempting to respond even if the organization does not have prior experience in that area. After the 2004 tsunami,


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