Japan Earthquake: 7 High-Tech Ways to Help

Apple, LivingSocial, Zynga and others use social media, tech to support Japan.

ByKi Mae Heussner
March 14, 2011, 4:52 PM

March 15, 2011 -- In the aftermath of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami, technology companies across the Web are stepping up to support relief efforts in the area.

Through gaming, texting, tweeting, Facebooking and more, small start-ups and tech giants alike are partnering with non-profit organizations to give people simple, high-tech ways to contribute to the cause.

If you're looking for a digital way to donate to the earthquake relief efforts in Japan, take a look below.

To find other ways to help, click here.

Through its iTunes store, Apple is giving customers a way to donate $5 to $200 to the American Red Cross.

To pledge their support, iTunes users just need to click the "donate" button beneath the amount they want to give. Apple charges the credit card associated with that iTunes account.

"Your support will enable the Red Cross to provide, shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to victims of all disasters," the iTunes page says.

In partnership the non-profit Global Giving, the local deals site LivingSocial launched an offer for its customers that supports the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund and the Emergency Aid to Tsunami & Earthquake Survivors Fund.

According to Global Giving, the funds support the International Medical Corps, Save the Children and other non-profits on the ground in Japan.

Clicking on the "Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund" button on LivingSocial's homepage takes customers to the Global Giving site, where they can make their donations.

To help victims in Japan, Chicago-based Groupon has turned its attention from deals to donations.

In addition to its daily deals in thousands of cities around the world, Groupon introduced an online offer Friday evening to let customers donate $5, $10 or $25 to support humanitarian aid group International Medical Corps' emergency relief efforts in Japan and other areas affected by the earthquake.

Since the deal went live Friday, the company said it has already generated $16,000 in donations.

Groupon also issued a tongue-in-cheek warning to its customers: ""Buyers beware," when you click "Buy" to donate your time or money to a worthwhile G-Team cause, the only discount you may receive is 100% off free, priceless karma."

If you're a social media addict, you can use your tweets and Facebook posts to raise money for Japan with HelpAttack.

Launched last year, the Austin, Texas-based start-up lets users pledge money for every action they take online. Similar to pledge models associated with marathons, in which runners raise money with every mile they run, HelpAttack lets users pledge an amount of money for every tweet and Facebook post they make.

You choose the amount of money you want to pledge with each post (as little as 10 cents or as much as $10 or more) and at the end of a 30-day cycle, your credit card gets charged with the amount you raised.

HelpAttack is partnering with the Red Cross, so if you want to support that orgnization's earthquake relief efforts, visit HelpAttack.com/pledgeto/redcross.

Mobile Giving

Your cell phone is another high-tech humanitarian tool. Just type in a few numbers and you can text a donation to one of several non-profit groups helping earthquake victims.

The Mobile Giving Foundation announced an initiative Friday that lets people use their cell phones to donate $5 or $10 to relief efforts.

If you're a diehard FarmVille fan, you can support children affected by the earthquake just by playing your favorite game.

Zynga, the company behind the wildly popular Facebook game, announced Saturday that it was partnering with Save the Children to support earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

In eight of the company's most popular games -- Cafe World, CityVille, FrontierVille, FarmVille, YoVille, Zynga Poker, Words With Friends and zBar -- players will have the opportunity to donate.

In FarmVille, for example, players can purchase a limited edition daikon radish crop. In Cafe World, players can buy Japanese-inspired decorations for their cafe. In each game, 100 percent of the purchase price goes to Save the Children's Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami Children Emergency Fund.

Zynga said that in just the first 36 hours since the initiative's launch, its gamers raised $1 million for relief efforts.

Japan Earthquake: Facebook Causes

Through Facebook causes, the social network's activism application, Facebook fans can support relief efforts by donating to the American Red Cross and Save the Children.

So far, the Help Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Victims fundraising project has raised more than $17,000 for the American Red Cross. Online activists have raised nearly $1,000 for Save the Children's Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Emergency Fund.

On its disaster relief page -- http://www.facebook.com/DisasterRelief -- Facebook users are sharing fundraising projects, videos and other information related to the earthquake and tsunami.

The technology world's annual social media extravaganza, the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, is currently under way. But, on Friday, as the festival was just beginning, the event director tweeted that some social media mavens had launched a website to raise money for victims of the tragedy.

The sxsw4.japan.org website was launched Friday with an original goal of raising $10,000 by the end of the four-day festival. But after the site nearly reached its goal in 24 hours, it raised the target to $50,000 and extended the deadline. As of Monday afternoon, SXSW4Japan.org raised more than $35,000.

"At SXSW this year, there's a lot of discussion and debate about influence. Now it's time to stand up and be truly influential as we raise support for tsunami relief," the site says.

Although the web site is focused on rallying conference attendees, anyone can donate and take part in support efforts.

In addition to featuring a way for people to donate money through the site, it also includes tips for launching individual fundraising pages.

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