While the devastating Japan earthquake and tsunami have passed, the recovery and mourning have just begun. The disaster could become the most expensive earthquake in history. The crisis could get even worse, depending on what happens next at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Now, more than ever, the Japanese people need our help and support to get through this crisis.
You don’t need to pack your bags and fly out to Japan to help, though. There are plenty of ways you can help online, whether it’s with your wallet or simply with your Twitter account. New technologies make it possible to lend a helping hand with your texts or even with virtual crops.
Every little bit counts. Here are a few ways you can help the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami:
1. Text to Donate
The American Red Cross has once again launched a texting campaign to raise money for relief efforts in the Pacific region. Last year, the Red Cross was able to raise over $20 million for Haiti relief through simple text donations.
If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross for Japan Earthquake Relief, just text REDCROSS to 90999. Each text will provide $10 towards the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts.
2. Donate via Facebook
The Red Cross has also launched a campaign on Causes to raise at least $25,000 for relief efforts. By logging in to Facebook, you can donate anywhere from $10 to $500 to help Tsunami victims and their families.
As of publishing time, the Causes campaign has raised over $40,000 from over 1,000 donors and 3,000 promoters.
3. Buy Virtual Goods
Virtual sweet potatoes and the Japanese Tsunami may not seem related, but buying digital crops could help children affected by the earthquake.
Zynga, known for its effective social good campaigns, has partnered with Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake Tsunami Emergency Fund to get its users to donate money through the purchase of virtual goods in CityVille, FrontierVille, FarmVille and its other games.
100% of the proceeds from the purchase of sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille or kobe cows in FrontierVille will go towards Save the Children’s efforts to provide relief in the Pacific. The world’s largest social gaming company is shooting to raise $2 million for relief efforts.
Zynga has raised millions of dollars over the last few years with these types of social good campaigns, most notably for the relief efforts in Haiti.
4. Embed Some Code
If you run a website and want to get your customers or users involved in relief efforts, all you need to do is embed a simple snippet of code.
The Hello Bar places a simple message at the top of your website with just a few lines of code. The service, which is in private beta, has decided to open its doors to anybody willing to help the victims of the crisis in Japan.
Simply sign up with the invite code “helpjapan” and you can quickly get the code snippet you need to embed a customized Hello Bar that will drive donations. Check out our full article for more instructions on how to add the donation bar to the top of your website.
5. “Like” a Facebook Page
The people over at Explore.org are donating $1 for every “Like” of the “Dog Bless You” Facebook page, up to $100,000.
Explore.org founder Charlie Weingarten delivered the challenge at South by Southwest yesterday. “Search and rescue dogs are a critical resource for emergency situations,” he told the audience.
6. Ways to Help on Twitter
Harness the power of your Twitter account to do some good for the people of Japan.
Earlier this morning, Twitter published a blog post detailing ways you can help with the relief efforts. Not only have they updated Japan’s mobile website with the latest information on the disaster, but they have also published a list of hashtags to tweet and/or follow related to the crisis.
Here are some key hashtags to remember:
#Jishin: focuses around general earthquake information
#Anpi: a hashtag for the confirmation of the safety of individuals or places
#Hinan: Evacuation information
#311care: a hashtag regarding medical information for the victims
#PrayforJapan: A general hashtag for support and best wishes for victims of the crisis
7. Donate via iTunes
Apple is also dedicating resources to the crisis in Japan. They have created a simple donation page in iTunes [iTunes link] that makes it simple to donate anywhere from $5 to $200 to the Red Cross with just a few clicks.