Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The worst disaster in developed world since WW2

At a scale greater than 911 or Katrina the devastation in Japan is surely our worst developed world disaster. The main differences between such huge human disasters in poor countries v rich countries are in media coverage and the ability of the nation to cope.

Whilst the number of people killed in Japan is huge and rising, the number of displaced persons appears to be comparable to the number of displaced people in Libya, yet the media has relegated the humanitarian crisis in North Africa to a bit part. We have Japan earthquake and tsunami, potential nuclear disaster and then the poetical impact of the Libyan crisis, political impact across other Arab and North African countries and maybe something about the North African humanitarian crisis.

The Japan disaster has also introduced a watershed in acceptable media coverage. Not long ago we weren't shown dead bodies, this time we were shown people fleeing for their lives, with neighbors screaming them on only to be caught up in the wave and had their lives extinguished in front of us, again and again.

The emotional impact is huge. I have no idea how it will affect fundraising. Appeals in Australia have been relatively low key so far - people are still shocked and no agency seems to be shouting for funds like they were over Christchurch and our local floods.

Unlike the floods, where there was a hastily constructed collecting tin in every pub, and no ten minutes on TV without an appeal there is no out-pouring of community spirit and people led fundraising here in Australia. I am sure millions will be raised but the impact on giving will be different. Only time will tell how.

What I do know, however, is that if you are are making decisions about your fundraising activites, and are not working in an organisation raising funds for the earthquake appeals then please, don't alter your plans. If you think the disasters will harm your fundraising so you postpone activities or cancel them then you are right, it will harm your fundraising - a lot more than if you carried on.

If you work in an organisation fundraising for the people of Japan right now, please don't forget the follow up. Check out to assess my point by point plaN against your own plans. It may be helpful.

In the meantime, please donate to Save The Children who have launched an appeal for Japanese children affected by the disaster,

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