Tips on donating to Japanese tsunami disaster relief
As shocking as it might be, one of the lessons of Katrina, the disaster in Haiti and previous Asian tsunami is that scam artists will sink lower and lower to get your money. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance warned us yesterday about the appearance of fraudulent or poorly run charities.
In general, be wary of giving anyone cash and keep in mind that donations of food, clothing or other materials will be too expensive to ship to Japan.
Do some research. What's the group doing on the ground? How is its reputation? Your money will be used best by organizations with a presence on the ground and a good record for using donations efficiently. One can plug the name of any charity into the BBB Charity Reviews to see if they are accredited. There are some surprises—Doctors Without Borders USA, for instance, does not meet the BBB standard. The BBB site can help one distinguish between the various Save the Children organizations out there. Also, if you encounter any fake-seeming charities, you would do well to report them to the BBB at the very least.
Look for matching opportunities online, via Twitter or at work. Example: Donate via Brookstone's website and they'll match your donation.