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March 15, 2022

Wait, 'DON'T donate money to Japan'?

What’s the one thing we’ve learned about donating money over the years?

Istockphoto_14218389-charity-sign Make sure.

Indeed, the world has seen too many charity scams – or, maybe more commonly, charity misappropriations – to just blindly give anymore. We all want to know: where is this money going?

So it may come as a surprise to some that there’s even a debate over helping out with Japan. As the island nation lies in ruins, at least one person is suggesting the unthinkable, which is for us not to donate right now.

To be clear, it’s money he’s talking about, and he is Reuters’ Felix Salmon. The news blogger’s recent post, “Don’t donate money to Japan,” is stirring it up in cyberspace for his stance on forking over cash to the country’s earthquake relief efforts.

According to Salmon, earmarking dough to NGOs can be counterproductive in times of crisis, when well-intentioned organizations can’t find effective ways to distribute funds along the front lines.

“In the specific case of Japan,” he continues, “there’s all the more reason not to donate money. Japan is a wealthy country which is responding to the disaster, among other things, by printing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of new money. Money is not the bottleneck here: if money is needed, Japan can raise it.”

Read Salmon’s full post here before you make up your mind on the issue – he talks about Haiti, too, and about how monies may not have gone to the best relief efforts after the country’s earthquake last year – but his post, surely, has raised eyebrows.

Kevin Conroy, a rep from Global Giving (one of the more visible charities accepting donations for Japan), responded to Salmon’s piece and detailed just where collected cash is going: International Medical Corps, Save the Children, Mercy Corps and Peace Winds Japan, all front-line charities, were mentioned by name.

Though, to flip-flop once more, maybe Salmon has a point.

“Reminds me of September 12th, 2001, when people started donating food (perishable and otherwise to NYC,” writes one commenter on the Reuters site. “I remember a photo of some relief worker with stacks of cookies around them … Good intentions are not always smart intentions.”

When global disasters hit, is it best for Canadians to donate money or should other relief efforts be made?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...