How to Give to Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Relief

Photo via CNN/Getty Images

My heart is heavy this morning with news of the earthquake and following tsunami in Japan. Coming at the end of a bad week for me personally, I stood in front of the TV in the office lobby this morning and was promptly handed a reality check.

Our first instinct is to help. For those involved in the volunteer abroad world, our first instinct is to go. But right now we can only wait, and watch. Hope, pray, give.

Here are some of the best, most up-to-date links for resources regarding the relief efforts Japan:

Network for Good: The Network for Good has awesome information on charities responding to the disaster, non-profit guidelines. They’ve also got some excellent tips for giving from Charity Navigator – good enough to repeat.


  1. Give to an established charity.
  2. Designate your gift.
  3. Avoid telemarketers.
  4. Research and follow up.
  5. Give online.

On the Network for Good site, you can also give to reputable charities like Oxfam USA and Save the Children.

Global Giving: Global Giving has already established a Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund to which you can give online. Paypal is waiving the transaction fees! Awesome. UPDATE: Global Giving now has texting options. Text JAPAN to 50555 to make a $10 donation to the Global Giving Relief fund.

Red Cross: The Red Cross is already mobilized to help in Japan and Hawaii. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation right now. The $10 will be automatically added to your phone bill. There was great success with this method during the Haiti earthquake, and we hope to see it again.

UPDATE 3/11 3:30 pm: Check out this great article from the Huffington Post with more options on how to help.

UPDATE 3/12: Thank you so much for your willingness to go and help; we are so encouraged by the number of people wanting to volunteer. It is still too early for organizations to have issued a call for civilian volunteers. Organizations sending teams right now (Salvation Army, AmeriCares, Save the Children, International Medical Corps) are sending pre-assigned emergency professionals. It will likely be weeks before there are calls for civilian volunteers. Right now the best thing you can do is donate money to their causes. We will definitely do all that we can to keep you updated as volunteering opportunities arise. Please see this CNN article for more info. Also, follow Volunteer Card on Twitter for real-time updates.

UPDATE 3/13: Here’s one tangible way you can help: Our friends at Soles4Souls are organizing efforts to send shoes to people in Japan, the same way they did after the Haiti earthquake. Find more info here.

We’ve made it easy for you to donate your shoes at one of our drop boxes around the country. You can find the one nearest you HERE> If there aren’t any drop boxes within driving distance, you can easily ship them to one of our collection centers with discounted rates from our partners at Unishippers.


UPDATE 3/17: If you’re tech-savvy, Crisis Commons is asking for volunteers to sign up to monitor a wiki page devoted to the collection of media links, data feeds and publicly available datasets. More info here.


  1. Michelle T says:

    So there’s nothing a volunteer could do to help right now?

    My bf just landed in Narita when it happened and he is wondering if he should continue with his planned itinerary further south or if there is anything he can do to help up north. Are there any organizations he can get in touch with in Japan? Or will initial relief and cleanup be more of a governmental effort?

    • Volunteer Card says:

      Hi Michelle,

      I think right now it is too early to tell. According to the Red Cross update just a few minutes ago, the Japanese Red Cross is assessing how volunteers can help. The Japanese government has also mobilized troops.

      I’m certain there is a huge influx of people like your boyfriend in the area who would like to help. If possible, he could try to get in touch with the Japanese Red Cross. However, I do know that initial relief efforts are usually handled by professionals. If I come across any other helpful information, I’ll pass it along to you.

      Best of luck,

  2. Bethany says:

    I am wondering how to get into the volunteer world of relief efforts, it has always been my calling, but because of my life have never been able to move in that direction till now. I have been a vet tech and know basic medical life sving skills, just need a direction toturn to now. thank you!

    • Volunteer Card says:

      Hi Bethany,

      It’s wonderful that you feel a calling in the international volunteer world! If you have medical skills, I would consider looking into Child Family Health International, an organization that does amazing grassroots medical work all around the world. You can also check out a blog post we did on CFHI here.

      Good luck!

  3. Jack says:

    How can someone join a volunteer group to fly to Japan and physicly help in anyway it might be needed?

    • Volunteer Card says:

      Hi Jack,
      Thank you so much for your willingness to help. As I explained above to Michelle, it is still a bit early for organizations to be sending relief teams. First the country and government of Japan needs time to assess their needs. The Red Cross says it is not currently taking volunteers. As soon as opportunities come available, we will be sure to post them on the blog.

  4. Thank you for the information! My first thought was also that I need to go there and help in some way. My heart is breaking for everyone there right now.

  5. Bev says:

    I am planning a trip to Japan next week and would like to volunteer in the relief effort. I can help with cleanup and can carry heavy things. we will only be there for a few days but would rather help than just be tourists. Many thanks for any guidelines you can give.

    • Volunteer Card says:

      As we do not yet have much information stateside at this point, my suggestion would be to get in touch with local Japanese organizations when you arrive in Japan. The Japanese Red Cross is a great one that may have some opportunities for you. I would make sure you are volunteering with a reputable organization and are taking all the necessary safety precautions. However it is good to know that disaster professionals and government agencies usually handle the initial relief efforts. If you don’t have specific training, it may be too dangerous to help right away.
      Good luck,

  6. Ivan says:

    Hello everyone,

    When I woke up yesterday, I could not believe what I was reading. Such a beautiful country as Japan ruined by tsunami. So sad. But there is no time for sorrow. We need to help those people as much as we can. Admins of this blog, please report me if there will be any organized trip to Japan. I live far away in poor country called Croatia but I am ready to go to the end of the world to help innocent people. I can lift heavy things and I have some experience helping in emergency situations. Japan, stay strong!

    Best wishes from Ivan.

  7. Cris says:

    I am a brazillian flight attendant who love and descend of Japaneses, it will be a honor if I could help my dearest japaneses in this hard time, how could I?
    My Japanese language is fluently.
    I am in my holliday at job for a month

  8. Kris Fong says:

    Japan/ indonesia or whichever need me. Would like to volunteer in whatever ways i can. how do i go about.

  9. Li says:

    Hey, I’m volunteer firefighter and I have some ability that will help in this event. Again I understand that Red Cross is not taking any volunteers at the time but is there any other group that come close to sending volunteer over?

  10. SANJEEV says:

    i want to go to Japan next week and would like to volunteer in the relief effort. I can help with cleanup and can carry heavy things. we will only be there for a few days but would rather help than just be tourists. .

  11. Chad says:

    When you find out Howe can volunteer services to go and help in japan for a cleanup or relief thank you

  12. Chad says:

    Let me know thank you

    • Volunteer Card says:

      Hi everyone,
      Thank you so much for your willingness to go and help; we are overwhelmed with the number of people wanting to volunteer. It is still too early for organizations to have issued a call for civilian volunteers. Organizations sending teams right now (The Salvation Army AmeriCares, Save the Children, International Medical Corps) are sending emergency professionals. It will likely be weeks before there are calls for civilian volunteers. Right now the best thing you can do is give to their causes. We will definitely keep you updated as volunteering opportunities arise.

  13. Kevin Kellly says:

    I am ready to go

  14. Сергей says:

    ready for any job! as a severe and medical help. really want to help. forward set of commands.

  15. Kiffen Nicole says:

    To volunteers wanting to fly to Japan

    I also am a flight attendant and only have the next 9 days off but am very willing and anxious to go help. If a group decides to go this weekend please email me, I can meet you in Tokyo. I’m attempting to network with some of Japanese contacts- there probably won’t be a group we can join, we will have to proactive in making our own- they have too much chaos over there to start worrying about where to house and feed volunteers. If anyone does go over there in the next few days please email me.

  16. Darran G says:

    I would very much like to volunteer in any way shape or form, especially go to Japan and help these people in their time of need …. I have 2 youngs son’s but would be prepared to give up time with my boys to go out to Japan and Help and support these unfortunate souls… I can put my hands to most things and available ASAP

  17. Kelly says:

    Hi i would like to volunteer in japan, i can help with anything that is needed weather is search and rescue, cleanup, distribution of food and water, I speak Japanese and i have some medical assistant experience, please let me know how can i get involved thanks

  18. VladYuzko says:

    I am willing to go to japan in a relief group for as long as needed. please email me if you have info on going there to help out physically. thank you.

  19. Kate says:

    I would like to volunteer for any help that is needed. How do I do this?

  20. mark p says:

    i do not speak japanese, have much medical knowlege (except first aid) or even much money. however im young, healthy, very hard working and i will do everything i can in order to help. i can start with very little notice and availuable for as long as it takes. please email me if there is any chance i may be of use either in the near or distant future. thankyou.

  21. Van says:

    Thanks for the great advice. I too want to go help out in any way I could in Japan. Please keep us updated when they’ll be needing civilian volunteers.

  22. I am commercial pilot with multi engine, instrument, and multi engine ratings. I will gladly volunteer to fly for the recovery effort.

  23. channing says:

    I am a student and I would definitely like info regarding volunteering. I am willing to join groups going over to help.

  24. Jack T says:

    Hi Lacy,
    I’m a retired male with experience in heavy construction, heavy equipment, heavy clean up, cutting (hot work), welding, and pipe work, etc.,Have excellent leadership skills, but speak no Japanese. All I require is shelter, capable of fully supporting myself. If you hear of any group in Japan requiring such skills, please let me know. I can stay as long as needed.


  25. denise wong says:

    I would like to help in anyway I would be gratefully if you can email me when ever there is a way I can help

  26. Laura says:

    I live near Utsunomiya Japan. My town and apartment weren’t severely affected by the earthquake and I would really like to volunteer with the relief effort. What is a good organization to contact. I live so close to the places that were devastated, I really want to help!

  27. Prasanna Kalkumbe says:

    Hi, I am Japanese language & Disaster Management expert person. I would like to help japanese people. Please show me the path how to help these people.

  28. I am ready to when need me within very short notice or any time.

  29. ready to go anytime to help japan’s brother call me when you need.

  30. Heidi Rey says:

    Hello could you please email me with any updates of how i could volunteer in japan, i would love to assist in any way possible. Thanks

  31. Volunteer Card says:

    I will be sure to let you know. Thanks for your willingness to help.

  32. Volunteer Card says:

    Hi Laura,
    Are you receiving any information through local news outlets? Try to get in touch with someone at a local news/newspaper for suggestions on organizations.

  33. sewe Nicholas says:

    Iam a qualified physician assistant with agreat humanitarian dream always interested in voluntary to improve the quality of life of disaster victims.I once did it in Kenya with the RED CROSS society and the results were amazing.I now feel like lending my humanitarian hand to Japan victims.

  34. Vin Yoon says:

    Pleae let me know if they need civilian volunteers, I would love to help out.

  35. Jamie says:

    My heart goes out to the beautiful people of Japan in their time of need. I am a massage therapist ready to lend a helping hand and join a disaster relief team I understand the distress this may cause on all involved in the relief effort and can carry a heavy toll. Passport ready, I can leave on short notice. Please let me know how I can join the aid effort. Many thanks~jamie

  36. Zhao,Xiao says:

    Hi Lacy,

    I am a colledge student in San Diego, and I can speak japanese.
    I am ready to be a volunteer anytime if needed!

  37. Toyo Kimura says:

    I too like many people posting comments would love the opportunity to go to Japan and help. I am bilingual in Japanese so I think I can be of some use. I have 3 relatives in Sendai the city hit hard and cannot get in touch with them. Thank you all for the donations, prayers, and support. Please contact me if there are any volunteer openings!

  38. Craig Brown says:

    I speak japanese, (lived there 5 years) recently retired and would like to help in the relief effort. Let me know how and when

  39. Sures Kumar says:

    I am Sures Kumar from Indonesia would like to help Japan from the Tsunami disaster. I was in charge for Water and Sanitation in year 2004 Aceh Tsunami as Volunter with MSF-Belgium and OXFAM-GB. Able to speak German, English and some French.

    If you need Volunter please contact me under + 62 811 86 5557

  40. Muhammad Iqbal says:

    I am Ph.D student in Saga University Japan. I want to help the people of Japan in this hard time. So, please guide me how I can help them. If you need volunteer than I am ready to do any thing for them. I know the Japanese nation have capability to over come this difficuties but as a humanbeing I also offer myself.
    Best regards
    PhD student
    Mathematics department
    Faculty of Science and Engineering
    ID NO 07632304
    Prof Nishi Akihiro

  41. Ryan says:

    I’m an undergraduate in Canada (U.S. citizen as well, though) and will be finished with my classes late April and I hope that once the smoke has settled and the professionals have begun to accept civilian volunteers that I can link hands with any organization – be it Red Cross, anything.

    It’s truly incredible how things can change in just one hour, one day..I’m just one person, but I want to do anything I can to help. Please continue to update this page with any information, especially when civilian volunteers are being accepted! If you have the time, please contact me via e-mail with any details you can provide.

    My heart goes out to all affected by this tremendous event. I am holding the entire nation in my thoughts.


  42. colin duffy says:

    i woud like to get ivolved and help over in japan i used to be a first aider in the british
    army i’m also a joiner so if there is any way i could help over there please let me know
    as i’ll do anything. my tel no, is 0044 7593053224 or 07593053224
    thank you.

  43. Brandon Case says:


    Although not sure it will result in much, I would like to add my voice to the chorus. If Any call for volunteers comes down, I would like to be amongst them. I am a 24 year old male, free for any duration, and physically/mentally/emotionally strong, flexible, and resourceful. I am highly trainable, and can specialize in a new area within an exceedingly short period of time. I already have experience in a wide range of skills, from heavy construction/removal to writing/media development, with an overall emphasis on problem solving, and an extreme work ethic. I have always been fascinated with Japan, and hold their culture in the highest esteem (I would like to live over there some day), and this disaster has caught me by surprise, stirring within me a desire to help such as I have never before felt. Being young, and as yet not having had my economic ventures prove overly fruitful, I have very little to contribute other than my time and strengths. So, again, I would be extremely grateful for any opportunity to put my skills and body to the task of facilitating their recovery, in whatever way possible.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,
    Brandon Case

  44. Jon David says:

    I am a volunteer (32) with extensive experience in working with children after disasters. I am currently in China and worked to do music therapy and emotional recovery with children after the Sichuan earthquake. I was also involved in relief efforts after the Tsunami in Thailand. I look forward to any news on helping victims of the Tsunami in Japan, especially children, in temporary shelters and short term situations where support is needed. From my experience, there is little that can be done during the initial few weeks when rescue operations are underway and basic services need to be restored, but I am posting now so that if any news does come I can be the first to know! My prayers for the people of Japan.

  45. Jon says:


    willing to go to japan asap to help with relief efforts. i cant sit back and watch anymore of this. can any one show the way?

    i’m a 22yr old Singaporean male, with some medical skills, as I completed National Service as a combat medic. will strive hard to help those in need.

    please feel free to contact me on my email

  46. Maki says:

    I live in Tokyo for the last 10 years & visited Sendai & Iwaki area as a tourist! I also can’t sit & watch the news everyday & do nothing! My husband & I are ready to go up north to help out once they start needing civilian citizens!! Please keep us posted! Thanx for this great forum!!

  47. Thanks for this great info! I am a teacher at an international school in Bolivia and have students whose families were affected. This post helped me see that there are things I can encourage my class to do!

  48. Hi I work for Breda Watch, a Dallas based watch company, and we have a facebook fan page where all you need to do is make a comment and a dollar will be donated to Convoy of Hope. We want to get the word out and would love it if you could post our site and our goal on your website. is our fan page and!/photo.php?fbid=204549342903437&set=a.139285556096483.20725.137343132957392&theater

    is where you can find all the information about our Pledge to Support Japan’s Earthquake Victims.

  49. rebecca says:

    You can donate to Japaneed$. Japaneed$ who is funding a group of Japanese people in Tokyo (Sendai Samurais) which has been directly helping the stranded victims who couldn’t get to the shelters, by providing food, toiletries, baby supplies, etc. Please be assured that 100% of your contribution will go where it is needed the most without delays or advertising expense fees!!! ♥ for more information!

  50. Great information. Lucky me I ran across your site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I’ve book marked it for later!


  1. […] How to Give to Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Relief After the devastating quake and tsunami, our first instinct is to help.  For those who are already signed-up and trained with volunteer organisations, you may be able to go.  For the rest, here are some of the best, most up-to-date links for resources regarding the relief efforts Japan, and how you can make a difference: […]

  2. […] links for resources regarding the relief efforts Japan, and how you can make a difference: LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

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