How to Help Earthquake Victims in Japan

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck Japan on March 11, 2011 at 5:46 UTC/2:46pm JST.[1] That and the tsunami that followed destroyed homes and thousands of people are missing. Many of us feel an urgent need to help out and the best response at this time is to make a monetary donation rather than seeking to donate materials or food. That way, the organization you choose to donate to can purchase the materials and food that are needed and won't have to ship them as far.

In this article, you'll find a range of possible choices for making donations, along with some other ideas of ways that you can help out.


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    From the US, send the message "REDCROSS" to 90999. This will automatically donate $10 to Red Cross to help earthquake victims. The donation will be charged on your mobile phone bill and will go directly to the Japanese Red Cross.
    • From Canada, send the same message to 30333.
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    Donate directly through the Red Cross website in your country. Some of the links are as follows:
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    Make a contribution to the Japan branch of the Salvation Army which has been offering shelter to stranded commuters in Tokyo.
    • In the United States, to make a $10 donation text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888.
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    Make a donation to Convoy of Hope online.
    • Convoy of Hope is providing food, water and emergency supplies. In addition to the food obtained from the Pacific region, Convoy of Hope is shipping water filtration units, blankets, portable stoves, hygiene products and other needed items from a world distribution center in the United States.
    • If you text TSUNAMI to 50555, Convoy of Hope will receive your donation and a $10.00 charge will be added to your cell phone bill.
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    Consider donating through the Google Crisis Response. It is at: On this page, you can choose to donate to the Japanese Red Cross Society, UNICEF, or Save the Children. This page also has handy quick links and phone numbers for emergencies and for finding people, real time updates, and message boards.
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    In the USA, donate via Shelter Box. Shelter Box gives assistance by delivering utility boxes with a shelter and emergency relief tools. You can make a donation at:
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    Help the zoo and aquarium creatures of Japan: Donate to help fund emergency relocation of animals, placement of generators, repairs of enclosures, and food supply. Fund at:
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    Make a donation to the Global Giving Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund at: There are varying levels of donation amounts that you can make and you can also make these donations in honor or memory of someone if wished.
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    Help people find each other. If you have information about anyone in Japan, try adding it to the following:
    • Google Person Finder. You can use this to both find and provide information about someone missing or found.
    • US citizens can use the US State Department information site.
    • Use Twitter and Facebook as a way of sharing information about the whereabouts of people and for connecting people up again. You could also share your donation links on these sites, explaining that you've used them to donate and encourage others to do so too.
    • Some online community boards might be available for use in your country to leave messages about finding people. Do an online search for such boards.
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    Send a message of hope and encouragement to school children and emergency workers in Japan. Hope Letters help by collecting online messages, translating them into Japanese and delivering them via local organizations. You can submit your message at
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    Donate from anywhere in the world to the trustworthy project of your choice on with a list of charities and exactly the things they need to help. Better place charities not only take money, but also clothing, chairs, desks etc. Donate what you want, where you want.
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    Make a lemonade stand and donate to one of the above-mentioned places. Other things you can do to fundraise include:
    • Hold a bake sale (quake bake) and send the proceeds to the fundraiser of choice.
    • Organize a triathlon, marathon, or other sporting event. Collect sponsorships and fundraising monies to send to the Japanese charity of choice through tickets, collection buckets, raffles, sponsoring per mile/goal, etc.
    • Auction off items of value such as items signed by sports stars and politicians, business donations, etc. Explain that all winnings go to charity; to prove this, offer to provide the winner with bank proof of payment of the winnings into the charity's account.
    • Hold a charity drive or gala at your local school and send all the proceeds to a school in need in Japan.
    • Take a collection bucket to work or to neighbors and family who know you and ask if they'll donate. Keep all donation receipts for proof of donation in case somebody asks for this. You might want to ask only people you know because other people might not feel that they can trust you if they don't know you; this will depend on where you live.


  • If you'd like to make a donation but don't have much or any money, consider helping by sharing information about donations as far as possible and spend time sending messages of support using social media. If you're in Japan and can offer a room for people who have lost their home, consider doing this as a way to help out.
  • Be patient as some of the sites may be suffering an overwhelming response. Make a note to return later if you cannot get in straight away.
  • You might be able to help with your own skills such as medical, logistical, rescue, etc., skills. Contact the relevant organizations for more details.
  • In terms of sending physical items, wait until informed of any specifics. Japan is a highly developed country with a large manufacturing industry; its needs may be quite specific and if you want to help with goods, it is best to wait for details.
  • Pray for the victims and family members of the earthquake. Help organize prayer meetings around your area in places of worship.
  • Call people you know from Japan who live or grew up outside that country. Call people you know who have family and friends in Japan. Call them even if you haven't talked to them since high school. Reach out. Just show you are with them. They are not alone. Japanese-Americans are grieving as well.
  • Some donations will be tax deductible depending on where you live and the amount donated. Keep all receipts as proof of your donations.


  • As always, beware of fraud when making donations as there are often uncaring opportunists using terrible disasters to turn a quick profit. Be sure to make payments only to reputable organizations through secure means and if you aren't sure, call the organization. Be wary of door-to-door collectors – ask for ID and tell the person you are calling their headquarters before donating.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access or other means for donating and sharing information

Article Info

Categories: Disaster Preparedness