I know some people were a little bit disappointed in the amount of time it took us to come up with a plan of action. During these types of situations, I think we need to take a step back and realize that you can never be fully prepared when a disaster like this happens – no one can – and that is evident across every organization that I’ve spoken to or researched today.
After a lot of emails, phone calls and in person discussions, I think we we have a plan of action.
What to do on the local level:
Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. Start planning fundraising events at the local level.
Here are a few tips:
- Host it at a bar or lounge. Most bars/lounges are supportive when it comes to fundraisers, especially on the weekday, because it drives business to that establishment on an otherwise quiet night.
- Ask for a donation of some sort from the venue where you host your fundraiser. If you host it at XYZ Bar, ask if you can get a $1 kickback per drink to go to the cause. If a business is reluctant, you can always mention that you are in the preliminary stage of picking a venue out to create the illusion of having a competitive advantage.
- Reach out to your Consulate, inform them of your plans and invite them to the event. This will go a long way in helping build that JETAA/Consulate relationship that is essential to have a strong chapter.
- Advertise the event through your personal networks. People who don’t have a direct involvement with Japan are interested in showing support to you and helping out. Don’t underestimate the support that your friends and family are willing to provide. A lot of my friends have already mentioned that they’d like to help out or donate in some way.
- Contact your local newspapers, television and radio stations. Watching CNN today, I think I saw the same footage 5 times every 5-10 minutes. Media outlets, especially local ones, are looking for different ways to humanize this story and report on how it’s affecting people in America. This would be a great way to get JETAA some high level exposure.
Which raises the question: What are we fundraising for?
What we’re doing on a national level:
I’ve been overwhelmed with the support that I’ve received from the JET alumni community. Trying to mobile efforts here in Northern California, my JET friends have been very supportive, helping out in any way possible, whether it’s been researching the various NPOs that are organizing relief efforts to taking the time to listen to me bounce ideas off of them.
I was a bit surprised to read the comment from an earlier post. Conner Cole, as well as one of my friends in San Francisco mentioned that they wanted to hop on a plane right now and help out on the ground, in Japan. In a conversation with Ryan Hart today, I learned that someone in Seattle did just that.
With the help of JETAANC and JETAANY, we plan on creating a national fund that will go toward funding relief efforts of JET alumni who will go to Japan to help out. This would not only allow JET alumni to give back, but it would bring everyone back to the mission of the JET Program – grassroots international exchange. We are still deciding what the appropriate use of the fund will be and will have more information at a later date, after we have performed due diligence and reached a consensus among the chapters participating in the fundraising effort.
Here are some potential questions that you may have:
Why is the fund being managed by JETAANC and JETAANY? Both JETAANC and JETAANY are 501c3 nonprofits, and the former JETAANC treasurer that will be helping out is a registered CPA. We plan on doing funding on a large scale at the national level, and running it through a 501c3 will make it much easier for tax purposes.
When will we send volunteers? Organizations like the Red Cross are still mobilizing their relief efforts. As it stands, the only organization that’s on the ground right now is the Japanese self-defense force. We are performing due diligence to send people through an organization that meets JETAA’s mission and provide a solid partnership. We also want to be aware that people on the ground right after a disaster like this have emergency and/or medical training. I’m assuming that the JET alumni we send will not have this experience.
How will people get selected to go? We’re still trying to figure this out. Rather than only sending the people that we can wholly fund, we plan on trying to send as many people as possible and at least subsidizing the trip in some way.
How much will JETAA USA pay for those who want to go to Japan? It all depends on how much we fundraise as a collective entity, and how many people want to go.
I’m still trying to work out the logistics of everything right now, so I advise chapters to focus on fundraising efforts at the local level. When we have a better idea, I will update the blog with contacts of who you can reach out to for specific topics (i.e. potential relief organizations, people who want to go to Japan, etc.).