How to donate
Most NGOs will tell you that, especially in situation of crisis like Japan, giving money is more efficient than giving food or clothes. The latter are more expensive to ship, and, at these early stages, it is hard to know exactly what victims need.
In every crisis, some unscrupulous people try to take advantage of generous donors. To avoid scams and fake charities, you need to be cautious. First, always check the legitimacy of the organisation, especially if it’s not well-known. Search information on the Internet (and not only on the NGO’s website) and look for comments and appreciation. You can also check if the charity is listed on a popular charity listing website (Charity Navigator, etc).
Second, read about what the organisation is doing in Japan. If the information is not on their website, it most probably means that they are still assessing the situation, and that they haven't launched an official appeal for donation yet.
Finally, avoid the middle man. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a cheque directly to the charity. Do not make cheques payable to individuals. And be aware of emails and phone calls from people you don’t know. Note that most NGOs prefer online donation.
Who to donate to
Most international NGOs have set up a donation programme to help the victims, but not all of them have a team in Japan, and not all of them know how they will spend the money yet. Here's a list of organisations which have teams on the ground and are most likely to send money to Japan.
The Red Cross (www.redcross.org.hk)
International Medical Corps (www.internationalmedicalcorps.org)
Save the Children (www.savethechildren.org)
The Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.org)
Medecins sans Frontieres (www.msf.org)
Peace-Winds Japan (www.peace-winds.org)
World Vision - you can donate at 7-Eleven stores (www.worldvision.org) )
If you find it easier to donate on your usual social media website, check the Causes application on Facebook. Co-founded in 2007 by Napster co-founder Sean Parker and grassroots political organiser Joe Green, the website and its 140 million users have already raised US$30 million for 25,000 NGOs. Their Japan earthquake campaign is operated by the American National Red Cross.
Another way you can help is by raising funds and awareness at your school. If your school is doing anything to help the relief efforts, we will help you by spreading the word. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "SOS" in the subject field. Explain what your school is doing and include your name, age, school, and contact number. Add a picture if you have one.