The catastrophic devastation left in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan has left thousands in dire need of help for the most basic of necessities. We know many of you out there want to offer aid in some shape or form, but are perhaps overwhelmed by the wide variety of options available online and offline. We've gathered a list of relief agencies and other donation projects with the goal of getting aid into the hands of those who most need it, letting the people of Japan know our thoughts are with them. Join Apartment Therapy today in an act of charity and hope...
Technology and social networking companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter are all offering users a ways to make donations with just a few mouse clicks.
Donate via iTunes: Apple has setup an American Red Cross donation system for iTunes users; donations of $5-$200 can be via iTunes. Rest assured 100% of donations made will go directly to the Red Cross. Please note, the Red Cross will use any excess funds donated for a specific disaster to "prepare for and serve victims of other disasters."
Find Missing Friends/Family: Google put their vast information database resources to create a person finder service was created as part of their Crisis Response page, allowing survivors and their friends and family to reach one another. The site is available in both English and Japanese and you can make a direction donation to the Japanese Red Cross Society from the page.
The Twitter blog listed a variety of special earthquake hashtags in Japanese and English to aid in mobile communications at a time when computer and phone access might be limited:
Tweet with special earthquake hashtags in Japanese
When tweeting, consider using the following hashtags to help identify your tweet.
#Jishin: General earthquake information
#J_j_helpme: Requests for rescue or other aid
#Hinan: Evacuation information
#Anpi: Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.
#311care: Medical information for victims
Search using special earthquake hashtags in Japanese
The search queries below have operators that will help filter out noise and provide clearer results. You can use these by clicking on the hashtags on any PC or smartphone.
General earthquake information: #Jishin
Requests for rescue or other aid: #J_j_helpme
Evacuation information: #Hinan
Confirmation of safety of individuals, places, etc.: #Anpi
Medical information for victims: #311care
Hashtags in English
Online retailer Alibaba.com has setup a Donate Disaster Relief Products page, where all AliExpress purchases made for disaster relief and emergency items are sent at cost, shipped to Japan free of charge. Emergency items like sleeping bags, tents, gloves, clothing, masks and LED flashlights are available; just be sure to specify "Japan Earthquake Relief" as the shipping address at checkout.
Artist and designers like W+K Studio are creating and selling wares like the Help Japan Poster (above) with the specific goal of raising funds through the sale of their work; 100% of funds are donated to Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts (buyers can also choose how much they'd like to donate).
Online Donations for Relief Agencies:
Japan Society Earthquake Relief Fund: Japan Society has partnered with several Japanese and American non-profits working on the frontlines of disaster relief and recovery. 100% of tax-deductible contributions will go to organization(s) that directly help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan.
The American Red Cross: Those who want to help can go to Red Cross site and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by this disaster.
Oxfam: Oxfam is working to identify partners to assist people who are suffering in the Pacific tsunami disaster and whose voices may not otherwise be heard, targeting hard to reach areas affected by the disaster.
UNICEF: UNICEF's focus is providing aid and care to the children affected by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. UNICEF has prepositioned staff and emergency supplies throughout the region to assist vulnerable children and families should the need arise, but your aid is essential.
Doctors Without Borders: The Doctors Without Borders has already been dispatched to provide mobile medical aid in Miyagi Prefecture, with hopes of finding and treating survivors. Please note, at this point, the organization is drawing on unrestricted donations given to MSF to fund efforts, and are not accepting donations specifically earmarked for the recovery efforts in Japan.
Save the Children: Save the Children has launched an appeal for $5 million to help children affected by Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, specifically with the goals of providing and setting up child-friendly spaces to provide a protective environment where children can spend time with other children and trained teachers.
The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army in Japan immediately dispersed teams following the disaster to the most severely affected areas where they are distributing basic necessities to survivors. These teams will also assess the damage to discern the next steps in their relief efforts. With 200 officers, 3,000 members and nearly 1,000 employees already in Japan, your donation will likely be put to work immediately. Mobile users can also text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to donate $10.
If you're unsure whether to donate to an organization, we recommend checking their standing and credentials via charity research organizations, such as GiveWell and Charity Navigator. File any fraud complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Known as IC3, the Center is a partnership of the FBI, National White Collar Crime Center and Bureau of Justice Assistance. Also, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721 to report the fraud.
["Help Japan" poster design by James White; sold out, with all proceeds being sent for disaster relief]