Japan and Donating

So I woke up this morning hoping to donate $25 dollars to Japan (my incentive to do so wasn’t, unfortunately, from reading newspapers/blogs or watching CNN or the news, since I, on the whole, don’t do those things, but instead came from a music torrent website that says it will provide a week-long free-leach if users donate 10 million yen). However, then I came across some blogs that seem to suggest that Japan doesn’t really need any donations right now. Or, more to the point, there are other areas of the world that could probably use our money more, but are being ignored because they’re ‘old’ stories.

I haven’t read up too much on this issue, so some of these sources may turn out to be wrong. If you know so, please comment and I can update this entry.

Anyways, so the NYTimes had this article, which said the following (I found this NYTimes article through this blog, btw):

The Japanese Red Cross…has said repeatedly since the day after the earthquake that it does not want or need outside assistance. But that has not stopped the American Red Cross from raising $34 million through Tuesday afternoon in the name of Japan’s disaster victims…

The Japanese government so far has accepted help from only 15 of the 102 countries that have volunteered aid, and from small teams with special expertise from a handful of nonprofit groups…

…[M]any of the groups raising money in Japan’s name are still uncertain to whom or to where the money will go…

Holden Karnofsky, a founder of GiveWell, a Web site that researches charities, said he was struck by how quickly many nonprofit groups had moved to create ads using keywords like “Japan,” “earthquake,” “disaster,” and “help” to improve the chances of their ads showing up on Google when the words were used in search queries.

“Charities are aggressively soliciting donations around this disaster, and I don’t believe these donations necessarily are going to be used for relief or recovery in Japan because they aren’t needed for that,” Mr. Karnofsky said. “The Japanese government has made it clear it has the resources it needs for this disaster.”

Robert Ottenhoff, president and chief executive of GuideStar, a Web site that provides charity tax forms and other resources for donors, said donors themselves were to blame for the fund-raising frenzy.

People who really want to support charitable organizations and good works, Mr. Ottenhoff said, should base it on a desire to support something they already understand and believe in.

The blog where I was linked to that article went on to say, “The Japanese are world-renowned experts in disaster preparedness, relief and recovery, and Japan is the third largest economy in the world. There should be no mistake that the Japanese government and Japanese organizations are well-equipped to take the lead.”

Anyways, then I was linked to here, which to understand their point I had to first read this blog, which further led me to this link, which I thought had a good point: “it is often difficult to get the public’s attention to the chronic, grinding — and often deadly — catastrophes that are playing out on a daily basis around the world.”

That article suggested the following 5 “chronic, grinding catastrophes that are playing out on a daily basis”:

The charity evaluator Givewell.org says:

Japan has been hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, and our hearts go out to those affected and responding.

At this time, we believe that the relief and recovery effort does not have what we call “room for more funding,” i.e., donations are not likely to improve the effort.

We recommend that donors support Doctors Without Borders, a relief organization that stands out for its transparency and ethical fundraising practices, as a way to support and improve disaster relief in general.

If you already follow this blog, then you might know that I started donating money a few months ago, through weekly donations, that add up to a bit more than 1% of my yearly earning. I was motivated to do so through Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save website/idea.

Check out Givewell.org, an independent, nonprofit charity evaluator. In their words, “We find outstanding charities and publish the full details of our analysis to help donors decide where to give. Unlike existing evaluators, which focus solely on financials, assessing administrative or fundraising costs, we focus on how well programs actually work – i.e., their effects on the people they serve.”

The one I donate to is VillageReach, the #1 recommended charity, which “aims to improve the systems that distribute medical supplies to rural areas in Africa.”

I was recently deciding whether or not I would start donating more, since I “should” have more money available considering I gave up drinking. I want to donate to a charity that works with women’s literacy and education. None of the 9 gold-standard charities on Givewell do that, but a charity called Pratham has received givewell’s ‘notable’ status, (given to less than 10% of the charities they’ve evaluated), and is the highest ranked organization in the cause of education in the developing world.

So yeah, I may start donating to them…If I do, I’ll update this entry.


About dontdontoperate

28 year old originally from Barrie, Ontario, Canada. H.B.Sc. from UofT with a major in chemistry and a double minor in philosophy and math. M.Sc. from UofT in physiology and neuroscience. Finished my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at McMaster in the fall of 2013.
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One Response to Japan and Donating

  1. For online trusted donation, one can visit Japan Relief page to help survivors of Japan Earthquake and Tsunami by donating to non-profits listed there.

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