Wow…all these images of the tsunami and the survivors the past few days is so overwhelming and heartbreaking. I know we all want to help in some way – and many of you probably already have by donating to the Red Cross – but many of us may want to go to Japan and volunteer in person. I’ve read a lot of posts on Yahoo! Answers from people who want so badly to go there now to help with the recovery efforts and I’ve also read about a few small groups of trained and experienced disaster response volunteers from different organizations heading there to help, but it seems the best way we can help now is to donate money or to volunteer locally. One doctor in Knoxville, Tennessee is asking every patient and visitor who come to his free medical clinic to donate $1. There are so many uncertainties and risks there now – the threats of radiation exposure and aftershocks – that the volunteers who are there already are likely not able to help directly yet.
Here’s what you can do:
All Hands Volunteers has already sent volunteers to Japan to assess the situation. Those volunteers are currently in Tokyo, since they’re not able to get much closer to the affected area yet. The organization isn’t sure if or when they will send more people, but you can give them your name and email to add to a list of prospective volunteers.
You can go to the Network for Good website where you can choose which organization you want to give to (so much more than just the Red Cross).
Charity Navigator is also a good resource to find charities to give to, but also tips about what you can do – and what not to do:
– Avoid newly-formed charities
– Designate your investment
– Do not send supplies
– Be careful of email solicitations
– Seek out the charity’s authorized website
– Think before you text
– Consider the nature of the charity’s work
– Be inspired by social media, but still do your homework
– Avoid telemarketers
– Do not expect immediate results, but DO keep tabs on what your donation accomplishes