14 March 2011

Giving money to the relief efforts

You'd think giving money would be an easy thing. It's not. I gave to www.globalgiving.org, before realising that actually, I probably could have just given to the projects they're supporting directly and saved their fee for administering it. I suppose them getting a fee for administering it to the other organisations helps them grow and that's a good thing. I didn't want to give any money to an organisation that was paying to fly foreigners in to do work: I wanted to give money to Japanese relief organisations on the ground. That seemed to me like the best chance of actually getting the money to the people who need it.

I tried to give to the American Red Cross, but they wouldn't accept my credit card (overseas transaction perhaps?) and it seemed like, behind all the tsunami relief talk, the money was actually just going to their International Relief Fund and would be allocated to Japan if it was needed. So then I discovered a page where you could actually donate to the Japanese Red Cross, so that's probably the best thing to do, although who knows how much of that goes into administration... If we were in Japan, it would be much more effective to just send food and blankets: people are doing that there. Perhaps it would be better to just have the in-laws buy stuff and donate it.

But please, for the love of everything, don't buy a damn bracelet. You will be buying the smug satisfaction that comes from publicising your perceived sympathy, not helping pull a 78 year-old woman out of a collapsed house after three days. Everyone who buys a bracelet is due to spend an extra thirty minutes in purgatory.

Doing good is apparently harder than it seems. And although I suspect my donation is ultimately pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things, I appreciate the need to be a small cog in a larger machine at times. $10,000,000 is made up of ten million one dollars. And I won't encourage you to be a cog with me as I terribly dislike that kind of pressuring of people to care about the things you care about, but the links are there.

Something on prayer forthcoming, if I decide I can write it in a way that won't anger a third of my readership...