On March 11, a massive 9.0 earthquake occurred near the northeastern coast of Japan. The earthquake itself was devastating but also created destructive tsunami waves…

Like many of you, we've been heartbroken for the country and people of Japan. There are no words. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted.

Why We're Not Starting a Relief Fund

Many of our ODW community members contacted us almost immediately to ask if ODW would start a relief fund for Japan. It only made sense since we've created a Haiti Relief Fund and a Pakistan Relief Fund.

While our emotional inclination was to start one, the main focus of ODW's work is in the area of extreme poverty and all of our “projects” (thus far) have been in the “developing world.” It's for this reason that starting a “Japan Earthquake Relief Fund” was not a simple or easy decision. It requires our board's approval and since we're currently set up to only support projects in the developing countries, we have chosen not to start this fund.

However, what we've learned since the launch of ODW in October 2009 is that our supporters and community members trust and look to ODW for their giving – even. They know that we pass on 100% of donations (minus credit card fees) and we'll partner with vetted and proven organizations that will ensure the funds will be used for the purposes they were given.

* And so, our board will explore the possibilities of expanding our flexibility as an organization for future purposes.

We Encourage You to Give

As stated above, while we're not personally receiving donations for Japan, we want to encourage our community to give.

As some have done, comparing Japan to Haiti is nonsensical. There are no comparisons. Japan is amongst the 2nd or 3rd largest economy in the world and Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. But when a disaster such as this hits a country – even a country like Japan – the setbacks and suffering are unbelievable. And the global community ought to respond in various ways.

Japan's government have asked for help but even they themselves are trying to assess how to engage the relief work – both short and long term. So, while it makes emotional sense to give immediately, you'll have opportunties to give beyond the initial first week media and emotional blitz.

In fact, we would contend that how we give beyond the first week may be even more important.

Some Organizations to Consider:

Make sure that you are giving to trusted organizations that have the capacity to engage in relief work. Ideally, we also recommend you support local organizations or those that have had respected history in that country – prior to the disaster.

Here are some of the organization we recommend:

A Global Community

Tragedies often remind us that are indeed bound together as humanity. We were struck by this photo of students in a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad as they lit candles and prayed for the people of Japan. The signs they hold capture our exactly feelings:

“Japan, We Are With You.”

photo: Reuters