One Year after Japan: Mobilizing Giving

Several weeks ago I gave a presentation as part of an Environmental Grantmakers Association webinar on charitable giving to Japan following the disaster there.

According to Give2Asia, in the first few months of relief, approximately US$3.1 billion in domestic support was collected by the Japanese Red Cross, Central Community Chest of Japan and other NGOs. Of this, the Japanese Red Cross alone collected $688 million for its relief and early recovery activities.   In terms of government support, about US$4 billion for cash distribution was provided to the affected people through municipal governments.  And about US$230 million of government-based support was received from 88 countries outside Japan.

Earlier this year, the Japan Center for International Exchange did a survey and estimates that Americans have donated $630.2 million to aid victims of Japan’s disaster. This number includes individual donations, such as the $10 you gave via text, as well as donations from corporate and private foundations.  The largest single overseas source of private philanthropy to Japan following the disaster has been the United States. Americans have donated generously after numerous overseas disasters in recent years, but in dollar terms their response to the 3/11 disaster was surpassed only by the outpouring of US giving for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Strong people-to-people ties at the grassroots level clearly played an important role in mobilizing Americans to give. More than 60 organizations dedicated to different aspects of US-Japan exchange raised funds for Japan, collecting a total of $48 million. These include Japan-America Societies around the country, which raised more than $24 million combined, sister city organizations in 44 cities and towns, which gathered $1.7 million for their Japanese counterparts, and American alumni of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, which is the JET Program, which brings young college graduates in the US to teach in the Japanese school system, which raised more than $300,000.

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