In the days since the earthquake in Japan, GlobalGiving has experienced an unprecedented outpouring of generosity from individual and corporate donors. While overall giving has not been as swift or as large as the support to Haiti last year, giving through GlobalGiving is more than double what it was in the same time period after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Very early in the crisis we launched a general fund to collect donations, and we set a funding goal of $90,000, confident that one or more of our partners would assist on the ground. After a major disaster, we typically set up a general fund, as it provides a convenient spot for first-responder donors, various partners, social media advocates, and traditional media outlets to send donors. We disburse those funds among specific projects that emerge over the following days and weeks.
Over this week we have seen the donation flow accelerate, and after talking with our partners on the ground, we raised our funding goal to $4,000,000. International Medical Corps confirmed they were filling gaps in local infrastructure and supplies, and they posted the first specific project. Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, and Mercy Corps were next, posting projects specific to their roles in the relief effort. As of this writing, donors have given over $1,400,000, and we expect at least a million more from corporate partner campaigns.
We now have an enormous responsibility to the people of Japan and to the donors trusting us to allocate the more than $1,300,000 collected in GlobalGiving’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund as of 3/17/2011. Donors use GlobalGiving because we disburse funds quickly, and we find local organizations that would otherwise be difficult to fund. The situation in Japan has been uniquely challenging for us, as we do not have an extensive NGO network like we have in the developing world. Yet, in less than a week, and in a difficult communications environment, we are working with several local responders. Their work will be available for funding alongside the international NGOs.
So, here is our strategy for allocating the funds collected in our Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. On March 18th – one week after the first tremors – we will disburse $725,000 from the fund to International Medical Corps, Save the Children, Architecture for Humanity, Peace Winds, Japan Platform, and Lifeline Energy. Including donations to specific projects posted by several of the above organizations, as well as Mercy Corps, we will disburse $814,820. These organizations are helping on the ground right now, coordinating local NGO response and providing direct relief and supplies. We are not disbursing all of the funds we’ve collected, because the situation at the nuclear plant may further complicate matters, and we want funds to go to organizations best positioned to help, striking a balance between speed and caution. We will continue to disburse funds weekly, and each donor will receive disbursement updates and progress reports from the field. Over time, we expect in-country Japanese organizations to receive a larger portion of ongoing disbursements. We welcome feedback on our approach, and we are committed to complete transparency. We designed our web site to spark dialog about the work being done, so please provide feedback to GlobalGiving and the organizations implementing the projects in Japan.
It’s clear to GlobalGiving that NGOs have a role in relief and recovery in Japan, and it’s clear that donors are willing to support these efforts. Japan is the nation most prepared to deal with this type of disaster, but the situation is unprecedented and evolving. Just as the US government was not fully equipped to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and NGOs continue five years later to play a role in recovery, all indications are that the scale and complexity of the situation in Japan demands a citizen-led response to complement government efforts. We are honored to be part of that response.
Update: You can also view the project report that we posted on this at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/japan-earthquake-tsunami-relief/updates/