Thursday, March 24, 2011

Raising money for Japan... when they don't need it

The debate over giving money to Japan rages on. Charities and humanitarian aid groups are asking for contributions for money to be used to help the earthquake an nuclear meltdown victims. Yet, Japan isn't asking for much help. Except for a couple of specific needs, Japan is saying they have the resources to take care of it themselves. And we know they can, because Japan is the second richest nation in the world.

Many critics say there is no need to give money to Japan because they are rich and becuase they are not asking for help. Yet, what we find funny about the whole debate, is that we don't recall similar things being said after Hurricane Katrina hit the US Gulf Coast. Fund-raising for that disaster went through the roof, despite the US being the richest nation in the world. We certainly know that the need was great in the Gulf Coast, in fact it still is.

The best advice we have seen on this topic is what we pointed out in an earlier post. If you are moved to give, go ahead and do so. Just make sure your money isn't earmarked for Japan. This is just in case that Japan refuses the help and the organization deems the money can be better spent elsewhere.

The Anonymous blogger from Tales From The Hood gives his take on the whole debate.

I don’t know a single actual aid worker who is in favor of mounting an international disaster response effort in Japan. And I’m not just saying that – we do talk to each other, across agency lines, about this kind of thing. But I know scores of marketers and fundraisers and donor reps who have spent the past week + with humanitarian blue-ball syndrome over the revenue potential of this spectacularly dramatic high-visibility disaster.

Not that aid workers know everything. But just so that we’re all clear:

Those who actually make their livings designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating humanitarian aid interventions say that a relief effort in Japan is somewhere between unnecessary and a bad idea. But…

We’re all still fundraising. “Our donors expect us to respond…” says the marketing department. Right – so this is all about the donors, then, is it?

Japan itself has said – repeatedly – that it wants only very specific kinds of support (search and rescue dog teams, for example, in the initial days), and in very limited quantities. This is one of the wealthiest, most technologically savvy, and generally most well-organized countries on the planet. Japan is a major contributor to disaster response in other countries through institutional donors like JICA and a full array of locally based HRI-affiliates. Japanese NGOs have valiantly tried to resist to onslaught of Western good will, but against all rational logic, we’ve insisted on “helping.”

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