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Creative Giving: How to Help Japan

Posted on 16 March 2011 by lara


As Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and now nuclear crisis continues to unfold, it’s natural to want to help those affected. While there’s a plethora of ways to make donations, we’ve been impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of guerrilla fundraising efforts from around the world.

Canadian graphic designer James White was quick to create the powerful, poignant “Help Japan” poster pictured above, which sold out soon after it was published. While some take its design as a “symbol of horror,” we see it as a symbol of heart, with all profits going to charities that are working toward Japan disaster relief.

In Portland, W+K Studio offers another take on the red rising-sun motif, albeit one that bears a resemblance to the Swiss flag; as of now, it’s still available. Meanwhile, street-art-inspired U.S. illustrator Hydro74 has come up with a military T-shirt available for preorder, whose sales go directly to the Salvation Army in Japan.

Musicians, too, have hopped on the fundraising bandwagon. Hip Japanese multi-instrumentalist Shugo Tokumaro is channeling revenues from his ¥100 download track Open a Bottle toward relief and reconstruction in afflicted areas, while Brooklyn-based music label The End Records has opted for a give-what-you-want approach via their Spring Sampler; proceeds go to the Red Cross in Japan. Even Lady Gaga is in on the action, with a “We Pray for Japan” wristband that lets Little Monsters donate amounts starting from US$5.

As of today, it’s also possible to donate by playing video games. Sega and Capcom have cut the prices of all Sonic the Hedgehog and Street Fighter IV downloads, offering 100% of sales money to Japan relief through March 20 and March 22 respectively.

Of course, you don’t need to buy anything to help Japan. You can always just donate what you can. However, bear in mind that some forms of aid are more effective than others. Giving blood is helpful; sending socks is not. And, as others have pointed out in controversially titled articles, aid organizations are more effective if your money isn’t earmarked for a particular project. Flexible, open-ended support means that, whatever happens, your generosity will make a difference where it’s needed most.

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