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Crisis in Japan: The Grantmaker Response

March 18, 2011

Early data compiled by the Foundation Center show that U.S. foundations and corporate giving programs have awarded more than $123 million for relief and recovery efforts in the first week following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The figure grows hourly as additional information is collected. A live RSS feed of grants awarded is available at http://maps.foundationcenter.org/japan/rss/.

Meanwhile, preliminary results from an ongoing survey of independent and community foundation CEOs and presidents suggest that about one in five of the surveyed foundations either have made commitments or are considering awarding funds in response to the disaster. Another one in five were uncertain. The survey, which was launched on Wednesday, March 16, had generated 47 responses by late Thursday.

Of ten foundations (out of 47) that told the Foundation Center they expect to provide assistance:

  • four plan to provide only short-term emergency relief;
  • two plan to provide only assistance for mid-term recovery efforts; and
  • four plan to provide assistance throughout the relief, recovery, and rebuilding phases.

Three community foundations either have or intend to establish a fund to receive donations to assist victims of the disaster -- the Aspen Community Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Triangle Community Foundation in Durham, North Carolina. (We're also aware of at least four other community foundations that have established funds: the California Community Foundation, the Columbus Foundation, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Marquette County Community Foundation.) Many community foundations are likely following the route of the San Francisco Foundation, which noted that while it does not plan to establish a relief fund, "we continue to monitor the need and resources available, and will adapt our response accordingly."

By noon on Friday, the Foundation Center had tracked a total of 89 grants awarded in response to the disaster, ranging in size from $1,000 to $8,6 million. Some of the larger grants include:

  • Fast Retailing USA, Inc. – 2 grants totaling $13.5 million
  • Coca-Cola Company Contributions Program - $7.5 million
  • Prudential Foundation - $6.1 million
  • GE Foundation - $5 million
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. - $5 million
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. - $5 million
  • Dow Chemical Company Foundation - $5 million

Nearly half the grants (47 percent) have been commitments of support for unspecified recipients, to be determined as better information about emerging needs becomes available. Of named recipients, the Red Cross was most frequently mentioned (40 percent of the grants):

Other recipients include CARE USA, GlobalGiving, International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, and the U.S.-Japan Council.

To date, corporate-sponsored giving, which tends to be first out of the gate during disasters, accounts for more than 90 percent of the giving tracked by the Foundation Center.

The information above was provided by Larry McGill, vice president of research at the Foundation Center.

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