Does Japan Really Need Our Donations?

Aid agencies are aggressively raising funds, businesses are regularly appealing to their customers, employees to generously donate and many celebrities are planning to hold benefit concerts and selling various merchandises to raise money for this cause. The world is going all out to donate for Japan’s disaster response. This is obviously a very natural response from people as they witness Japan struggle from the horrific devastation caused by the series of disasters. People world over are emotionally moved, keen to help and making a donation is one of the simple ways to express support and concern for the people of Japan.

But Does Japan Really Need Our Donations?

Japan is not poor Haiti, it is the world’s third largest economy and a country which has had previous experience of completely rebuilding itself after getting totally destroyed in World War II and emerging as one of the world’s strongest nations. Furthermore, Japan’s government has not yet asked for help from the aid agencies. The only help Japan has asked so far is from few select governments for specialized resources to assist in the search and rescue operations. In addition, the aid agencies who’ve claimed to provide relief and are raising funds in the name of Japan are still to act. The continuing nuclear crisis and chaos in Japan has kept most of the aid agencies at bay except a few specialized nonprofits who are providing medical assistance.

A person from Japan who’s well versed with Japan’s disaster preparedness recently blogged to provide an interesting perspective to the earthquake and Japan’s capacity to rebuild. He mentions in his blog “If you’re feeling compassionate and want to do something for the sake of doing something, find a charity in your neighborhood. Give it money. Tell them you were motivated to by Japan’s current predicament. You’ll be happy, Japan will recover quickly, and your local charity will appreciate your kindness.”

In our attempt to help our readers better understand the various donations drives that are going on and what’s happening with the funds being collected, we wrote two articles on this topic, Making Sense of the Japan Donation Frenzy and The Role of Big Brands in Raising Funds for Japan. The New York Times too yesterday did an article on this subject- Charitable Rush, With Little Direction. They mention in the article “many of the groups raising money in Japan’s name are still uncertain to whom or to where the money will go”. They quoted President of Global Giving, one of the nonprofit’s fundraising almost nearing it’s goal of 2 million “We’re still working to identify N.G.O.’s and finalize agreements, said Mari Kuraishi, referring to nongovernmental organizations.”

So What’s Going to Happen with All the Funds Being Raised?

It’s not yet clear. Japan is currently occupied with taking control of the dangerous nuclear emergency. In the coming weeks it would become much clearer as the focus shifts back on the affected and the Japan based nonprofits become active in dealing with the humanitarian crisis at home. The international aid agencies will then look to partner with the local NGOs to deliver aid effectively or it may also be that Japan clearly refuses help from international aid agencies in which case the fund’s they’ve raised for Japan would then be directed to meet any future disasters or the ongoing crisis in other parts of the world. The very fact that these aid organizations are operational internationally means your donations would not go waste, it will be put to great use somewhere else for a disaster which may not be able to generate the same kind of charitable outpour as Japan. As UNICEF put it “If donations exceed anticipated needs, it will redirect excess funds to other areas where children have the greatest need”