On Friday, March 11, the largest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history caused unbelievable devastation to that part of the world. The earthquake registered 8.9 on the Richter scale and hit just off the coast of the northern part of the country, resulting in an enormous tsunami wave which wiped away entire coastal towns.
As much as we see the best in humanity during times like these, we also sometimes see the worst. Here’s some information from a site I trust, Charity Navigator, on the best charities to donate to at this time if you’re in the United States. These charities were specially selected by the folks at Charity Navigator both for how well they manage their finances, as well as for having an established footprint in Japan already (thus enabling your donation dollars to go directly to work).
- American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
- American Red Cross
- Catholic Medical Mission Board
- Convoy of Hope
- Food for the Hungry
- International Medical Corps
- Operation USA
- Oxfam America
- Save the Children
- ShelterBox USA
- World Vision
Here are some general tips from Charity Navigator and other sources on the Web to make sure you’re giving wisely as well as generously:
- Make sure the charity has a presence in Japan and other areas in the Pacific. This ensures that your money can go right to work. The list above meets this criteria. Also, make sure the charity is one you’ve heard of.
- Do not send supplies. While it may be tempting to pack up those extra sweaters and blankets you have, that’s not an efficient way to get help to the affected areas, especially areas that have been devastated. Goods you send may end up getting in the way, but cash can always be used.
- Make sure you do your research before responding to a call to text or email or respond on a social networking site like Facebook. What makes these methods convenient for charities also makes them convenient for scam artists. Before texting a donation, double-check with the organization’s Web site to make sure the code is legitimate. Never, ever click on links or open pictures or attachments from unsolicited emails.
- Avoid telemarketers. It’s almost impossible to tell who is legitimate and who is not. Politely ask for their organization Web site, and tell them you’ll donate directly there.
- Use your head as well as your heart. Seeing pictures of devastated areas can tug on your heartstrings and make you want to open your checkbook, but make sure you do your homework first. Research to make sure the charity is equipped to take your donation and apply it directly to help those in need. Follow-up with the charity over time to keep tabs on their progress.
- Don’t stop giving when the news no longer makes the front pages. There are still suffering people all over the world who need your help. It’s easy to fall into a sense of complacency when we’re no longer bombarded with media images of the suffering, but that doesn’t mean the suffering has stopped. Continue to give to those in dire need, not just in Japan, but in other areas like Indonesia, Haiti, and Chile who are still rebuilding their lives and worlds.
For the full article on Charity Navigator, see here.