There hasn’t been a lot of good news coming out of Japan lately (though I’d say a big part of that is news agencies trying to shock audiences as much as possible so they can make more $$$). At this point, sure, the nuclear reactors are kind of a problem (though time will only tell), but the real issue is the hundreds of thousands of people that are displaced, homeless, cold, cut off, or without food (i.e. people are going to start starving soon). While you probably can’t do much to help with the nuclear reactor thing, you can do something to help the people… After all, it’s the people who need the most help anyways. If something like this happened to you, you’d surely want to be helped as well.
Ways You Can Help
There are tons of ways you can help that do involve your hard earned cash. I’m sure they’re pretty good. I’ve donated myself. The more I read, though, the more it seems as though relief organizations are “over funded” (i.e., they have more money than they know what to do with, and the money you’re donating isn’t doing anything… and eventually will probably make it to some other country, which is good too, I suppose).
I think donating money to help is good – and I think that donating money will have more affect in the next week or so (when we can finally see who and what needs the most financial support), but right now it just doesn’t seem like funding disaster relief will help very much right now.
That being said, if you’d like to donate anyways, that’s great. Just be sure you don’t earmark your donations (so that they can be used in other places of need as well). Japan is printing off loads of money… money isn’t the issue. Red Cross and other big relief organizations will surely help and play a role in repairing Japan, but if you tell them you only want your money spent on Japan, it’ll probably end up being inefficiently used (like I said, there’s plenty of money already).
NihongoUp, JapanTimes, and so many other list off many more ways to donate. The most important thing is that you make sure your donated funds aren’t earmarked. I’d recommend Doctor’s Without Borders (as does that above article), but anything you donate will probably eventually help someone, and that’s good.
In the meantime, though, there are other ways you can help.
Buy TextFugu (And Donate 110% Of Your Payment)
If you were going to donate some money anyways, here’s an offer for you.
Before you go all crazy saying “omgwtfbbq he’s trying to make money off a disaster” – please keep reading.
Over the next 5ish days or so (we’ll see how long I can afford this), 110% of every dollar spent on TextFugu will be donated to disaster relief in Japan (more on who the donations go to in a minute).
Here’s my thinking on this: At first, I was going to donate part of the revenues, but then I realized that would just make it seem like I wanted your money, hoping more people would sign up to make up for the difference. So then I thought… okay, how about 100% of the revenues? I probably can’t afford to do this for a really long time, but even if sign ups stay the same, then at least I’m donating a good chunk of money to Japan. If sign-ups go up, then I’d be able to donate a bigger chunk of money to Japan. Then I realized that even though technically this is money I’m donating, it feels like you’re donating and I’m doing nothing, so I want to throw some of my own personal dollars (or more of them) into the mix. So I thought, why not donate 110% of revenues instead?
So, before you get in a tizzy, know that I’m donating extra money for every sign-up on TextFugu.
So here’s the deal. As long as you see a big green message on the homepage / pricing page of TextFugu saying I’m doing this, I’ll still be doing this. In about a week, I’ll probably take it down (and let you know how it went, of course). If you don’t see this big green message on the homepage, 110% of your payment probably isn’t going to disaster relief. So, if you’re interested in TextFugu (or want to give it to a friend, or something) you should do it now. Otherwise, go donate money directly, because that’s cool too.
I don’t know who / where the donation will go to yet. I’m thinking I’ll spend the next week researching smaller organizations that will have big impact. I want to donate to someone who will deliver the most help for the dollar, if you catch my drift. I don’t think that organization will be Red Cross or something like that… It might end up being that, and if it does, of course the donation won’t be earmarked only for Japan, but I’m hoping I can find an organization that has a lot of impact.
Other Japan/Japanese related companies trying to help the relief effort include NihongoUp (50% of revenue), Flutterscape (matching donations up to $3,000), CrunchyRoll (matching donations up to $5,000), jlist (5% of orders up to $10,000) and… (let me know if there’s others in the comments below, please!).
If you’re in Japan, now’s probably a good time to give blood. It doesn’t cost you anything, and there’s going to be a ton of people who need it. If you click on the map above, you can find places around Tokyo to give blood, though I imagine there are many other local areas all around Japan that will be accepting your vampire food. Rules for giving blood in Japan are pretty strict, though, so make sure you take a look at this before donating.
Giving blood definitely saves lives, and will probably be one of the nicest things you can do right now (and you should keep doing it, because giving blood is awesome, and you get cookies).
I’m not sure what’s needed at the moment, but if you’re in Japan, and want to help, you can try to join one of the volunteer efforts that are starting to come underway. It’s divided into areas, so you’ll have to call each government individually to see (non-Japanese language support is probably limited).
Sendai (Miyagi) – 022-262-7294
Iwate – 019-637-9711
Fukushima – 024-523-1254
Send Socks & Support Letters
It’s friggin’ cold in the Sendai area (where the earthquake hit). Disasters like this are also psychologically damaging. Socks and letters will help both of these things.
Jason Kelly is fairly close to the “disaster area” though far enough away to still get mail. If you send him socks, he’ll make sure people get them. If you send “support letters” with the socks, people will get them too.
It also looks like “HopeLetters” is doing an electronic version of the support letter. Check out HopeLetters to send something to relief workers or students.
Nothing like a little letter to make someone feel a little bit better. It’s those human touches that make lives improve.
The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is panic. I almost feel like foreign media is panicking more than the people actually affected by the earthquake (actually, I’m pretty sure this is the case). While the situation is terrible, and lots of people are suffering, it doesn’t help to make up stories (though this one was kind of funny), spread rumors, and act off of unreliable information. It’s pretty safe to assume that whatever any not-from-Japan media news source (Tofugu included, by the way) probably doesn’t actually know what they are talking about when it comes to nuclear reactors and earthquakes and things like that. CNN, Fox, whatever… they often don’t know what they’re talking about, and love to blow things out of proportion. Don’t let them scare you, and don’t let them scare others. Sure, the areas affected by the quake suck in a lot of ways, but Big News Media is going crazy, as they always do. Whatever they can do to get viewers and make as much money as possible (*ahem* remember Charlie Sheen?).
So, don’t panic, and just do what you can to help. Accurate information will get to you eventually—it’s not worth spreading rumors, making things worse.
That being said, Tofugu won’t really cover too much about the quake. If I do, it’ll either be focused on helping or be some sort of positive quake-related news story. If you want to see everything else, you don’t have to look far.
Okay, I don’t know if this actually helps, but I think it does. Stay positive, everyone! Things will get better (especially if everyone chips in to help), and Japan will end up a stronger country because of it (and so will its friends an allies, who are helping out).
So, be happy, even in difficult times. Happiness, kindness, and sharing will be the thing that makes this situation better, so you might as well start now.
Over the next week, I imagine we’ll see how things play out, and then figure out the most effective way to help real people in real need. When that happens, I hope you give and help as much as you possibly can!
Any other ways to help folks out without donating money? Let me know, and I’ll add the good ones into the article. Thanks!
P.S. Donating money is good. It helps people. You should do it anyways.