Agencies share ways to donate to Japan, avoid scams
by Shaka S. Lias
Mar 17, 2011 | 1959 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since a 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck Japan on March 11 many people have been looking for ways to donate, however the Better Business Bureau urges givers to make sure donations go to legitimate and reputable charities. Agencies such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army have already begun relief efforts.

Capt. John Fuller of Salvation Army-Cartersville Corp. said locally organizations are asking for monetary donations by check or text message.

"That is the only thing we are doing at this moment," he said, adding no food drives have been organized.

While there have been no donations made locally for the Japanese, they are pouring in from around the country, according Jennifer Byrd, national public relations director for The Salvation Army.

Byrd said through various donation outlets people have donated millions. In addition, three emergency service relief teams are in Japan assisting.

"A disaster team in Sendai handed out a thousand hot meals as well as hot drinks and handi-towels to survivors." Byrd said. Teams in Mito distributed bottled water, blankets and diapers to evacuees.

Byrd said the Salvation Army presence has been in Japan since the 1800's.

"The Salvation Army is extremely grateful for the generosity that has already poured in to help us meet those needs," she said.

To date, nationally the organization has collected a total of $2,117,821. Donations have been coming in through various methods: online donations, $1,940,380; text, ("Japan" or "quake" to 80888 for $10 donations) $111,590; mail, $1,200; lockbox, $5,651; and 1-800-SAL-ARMY, $59,000, according to Byrd.

The BBB advises donors to be cautious about giving online, especially in response to spam messages and e-mails that claim to link to a relief organization.

President of BBB Fred T. Elsberry Jr. said it's a natural instinct to reach out to charities to help when disasters happen. He advises donors to take a moment and be certain everything is valid. He said not only should people be concerned about avoiding fraud, but also make sure their money goes to those that are equipped and experienced to handle the unique challenges of providing assistance.

The BBB also warns donors to be wary of donations that claim 100 percent of donations will assist relief victims. Charities have fundraising and administrative costs and even credit card donations involve at least a processing fee.

Donors are advised to donate directly to the relief charity of their choice. To put your disaster relief gift to work faster, go directly to the charity's website to make your donation, or call with your credit card number.