Sichuan earthquake relief – where to donate

The following is an overview of recommended 501(3)c charitable organizations to donate to for earthquake relief in the short and long term which you may find useful.  Note that the situation is changing, and this list, written June 3rd, may not be up-to-date.


The Red Cross is the most mainstream way to donate to the relief effort.  Founded in 1904, the Red Cross of China essentially served as the Ministry of Health during the post-1949 Communist era, and while it has since become independent, remains closely linked to the government. 

The Red Cross has been coordinating all the medical relief efforts of supporting volunteer organizations.  According to reputable sources, the Red Cross, alongside the army, has been doing an effective job of keeping order and providing aid to those affected by the quake.  More than 35,000 staff and volunteers with the Red Cross Society of China have been on the ground distributing food, water, tents and other essential items. Red Cross volunteers are also attending the injured and offering emotional support.

To donate to the Red Cross of China and still enjoy the 501(3)c tax benefit, US corporations and individuals can (and have) been donating to the American Red Cross, designating their money to the China Earthquake fund.  The American Red Cross commits to allocating their funds to the designation.

• Presence: Over 100 years in China
• Reputation: Largest and most mainstream donation route; recommended by the American Chamber of Commerce
• Short term focus: Coordinating disaster relief logistics, medical attention, and basic needs
• Long term focus: (Specific plans are unclear)
• Oversight: Significant government and public scrutiny and supervision, though the surge of donations to the Red Cross may make it more difficult to monitor use of funds at the local level
• Efficiency: 4 stars on



Founded in 1982, AmeriCares is a well-respected international relief organization that delivers medicine, relief supplies and health care to disaster sites and places with daily needs.  AmeriCares has been an early responder during the floods in Guizhou in 1998, the earthquake in Xinjiang, and many other emergencies in China.

Currently, AmeriCares is directly providing relief materials to Sichuan.  AmeriCares has shipped and is distributing antibiotics, solutions, vitamins, blankets and other medical supplies to Chengdu, and is collecting additional donations of medicines from pharmaceutical partners, including orthopedic supplies, such as wheelchairs and crutches.  AmeriCares is also currently in the process of importing and erecting a temporary field hospital to assist in the short- and long-term medical treatment needs. They are currently developing long-term support plans.

AmeriCares has excellent collaboration with official Chinese efforts, leverages partnerships in the US, and has demonstrated impressive speed and professionalism in their work on this relief effort to date. 

• Reputation: Quick, efficient, appropriate and professional
• Presence: Relief work over a long period of time in China
• Short term focus:  Immediate earthquake relief (medical supplies and facilities)
• Long term focus: (Still under development)
• Efficiency: 3 star rated on

Founded in 1992, Heart to Heart International is a medical organization focused on disaster relief and medical training.  Heart to Heart has been in Sichuan for over ten years, providing pay-what-you can Western medical care to the community.   In the days after the earthquake, Heart to Heart’s China operations have grown dramatically, and its scope of services has broadened to encompass needs identified during their on-the-ground relief work and feedback from earthquake survivors.

Immediately after the earthquake, Heart to Heart brought in over a dozen western-trained doctors to help provide medical care to the disaster sites.  Heart to Heart gained national notoriety when one of its doctors, Dr. Brian Robertson, was interviewed by Wen Jiabao on CCTV during his visit to the disaster area; the subsequent surge in interested volunteers led this organization to quickly absorb and mobilize over 200 teams of 1200 foreign and local volunteers to provide relief to affected areas, focusing on areas and needs not being serviced by the government or other organizations.  By June 3rd, Heart to Heart had provided over 18 tons of tents, mosquito repellant coils, water, food, and other relief supplies.

They expect this stage of delivering relief supplies to last for another 4-6 weeks, and are using this interaction with local villages to build relationships and identify longer term needs.   Their development model is focused on training and empowering interested local Chinese to provide ongoing development assistance. Having identified psychological counseling as the most pressing need, they have already used their team of psychologists to train over 300 people; as time goes on, they will provide more in-depth training modules as well.  They also will provide basic hygiene and disease prevention training starting next week, continuing over the long term.  Additionally, they believe there is a need for local residents to learn vocational skills in construction (e.g. plumbing) so that they can find jobs as the next few years of rebuilding begins, and intend to incorporate such training into their long term development goals.

This organization’s leadership has been able to adapt quickly to the changing needs, and to incorporate a new operational model and objectives as its China operations grew nearly a hundred times in a matter of days. 

• Presence: More than ten years of commitment to Sichuan province
• Reputation: Sincere, dedicated and skilled leadership and medical teams
• Partnerships: Close collaboration with the Red Cross, local relief organizations, 10+ villages, a network of development and medical professionals, and hundreds of local Chinese
• Anticipated focus: (1) Psychological counseling; (2) development training and planning; (3) hygiene and basic health practices; (4) construction-related vocational training of Chinese in the area to help them with employment
• Efficiency: 3 star rating on

The Half the Sky Foundation was founded in 1998 to provide nurturing homes for orphaned children.  Half the Sky was selected in 2005 to work with the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) to help create new national guidelines on quality of care, and its founder, Jenny Bowen, was selected last year as the only American expat torchbearer by the Chinese government for her contribution to Chinese society. 

In response to the earthquake, the Half the Sky Foundation in conjunction with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA, the government agency responsible for disaster relief) set up a “Children’s Earthquake Fund” to provide direct aid to affected children.  They have already purchased and delivered more than 30 tons of tents, medicines, food and formula, children’s clothing, diapers and other infant supplies, and have helped transport orphaned and displaced children.  Half the Sky is focusing now on the longer term goal of helping children recover emotionally.  Starting this week, they are launching a Sichuan Caregivers Training Project, staffed by one of the foremost child trauma and bereavement specialists in the world, the National Center on School Trauma and Bereavement.
• Presence: Established in China for 10 years
• Advantages: Good model of civil-society building and government/NGO collaboration; small organization with directly visible impact
• Reputation: Strong positive impact on the orphans it works with, devoted leadership and solid project management
• Efficiency: 4 star rated on
•’s+Earthquake+Fund   (+1-510-525-3377)

Founded in 1979, Mercy Corps’ mission is to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression through: emergency relief services; sustainable economic development that integrates agriculture, health, housing and infrastructure, economic development, education and environment, and local management; and civil society initiatives that promote citizen participation, accountability, conflict management and the rule of law.
In China, Mercy Corps has procured and delivered water, noodles, milk and shelter items to displaced families who have lost their homes. It is in the process of coordinating plans for longer-term recovery and reconstruction, and is especially focused on education, counseling and activities for youth.
On Saturday May 24, Mercy Corps helped coordinate the shipment of nearly three tons of medical supplies to survivors and affected communities, in collaboration with Boeing, Shenzen Airlines and Medical Teams International, and one of its local partners, All China Youth Federation (ACYF).
• Partnerships: Strong local and foreign partnerships
• Reputation: Specifically recommended for their China earthquake relief by
• Short term focus:  Basic supplies (e.g. food, water) to refugees
• Long term focus:  Youth and education
• Efficiency: 4 star rating on




Founded in 1958, Project HOPE runs health education programs and provides humanitarian assistance, addressing infectious diseases, health professional education, women’s and children’s health, humanitarian assistance, and the need for health systems and facilities.

Project HOPE has been in China for 25 years.  It has received over $1 million of cash donations and commitments from foundations, individuals and its corporate partners, including Abbott, Eli Lilly and Company, Baxter International Inc., Wyeth, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Hospira.  It is identifying appropriate medicines and supplies from our existing inventory to be shipped to China.  Its flagship program, the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, dispatched two of its surgeons and four nurses to the quake zone to help with the relief effort.  Their staff in China remains in contact with China’s Ministry of Health, the Sichuan Bureau of Health, and local hospitals in the quake region with which they have had longstanding relationships, to determine medical needs and logistics.

• Presence: 25 years in China
• Partnerships: Strong partnerships with global medical companies; good partnerships with Chinese hospitals
• Short term focus:  Delivering medicines and supplies
• Long term focus: Medical
• Efficiency: 4 star rated on



Founded in 1948, Direct Relief International is a non-political, non-sectarian organization that provides medical assistance to people victimized by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest.

In China, Direct Relief has been working to identify medical partners for both emergency relief and longer term efforts.  Direct Relief is organizing assistance to help meet the immediate need for basic health care, including upper respiratory and skin problems, and to assist with the anticipated significant long-term need for prosthetic and orthotic care.  DRI has been working in China with the Chinese Red Cross, Sichuan University Hospital, and Marie Stopes International (who operates five clinics in China), and in the US with the Los Angeles Chinese consulate to determine the exact needs for medical supplies at a local level and to identify groups that may need support.

• Reputation: specifically recommends DRI for their China earthquake relief
• Partnerships: Collaboration with several local partners
• Short term focus:   Emergency medical procedures
• Long term focus:  Rehabilitation and prosthetics for those permanently injured (though still formulating strategy and partnerships)
• Efficiency: 4 star rated on

Oxfam is an international relief and development organization focused on poverty, hunger, and social justice. In China, Oxfam has committed $1.5 million for emergency relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work, and is preparing for longer-term projects such as helping to rebuild damaged infrastructure.  Oxfam provided clean drinking water and solid waste disposal in Mianyang, rice and cooking oil to Qingchuan County, and quilts, soaps and flashlights to villages throughout Gansu province. Oxfam is also working with an engineer who is leading Chinese university students to offer rural villagers training on more earthquake-ready home reconstruction techniques.  Oxfam’s overall mission in its earthquake relief is to go to “remote areas that are not being covered by the government or other relief efforts” (John Sayer, Director General of Oxfam Hong Kong).  Oxfam has been working with MOCA and China’s Poverty Alleviation Office (PAO) in Sichuan and Gansu provinces, to make sure it is working efficiently and without redundancy.

• Short term focus: Clean water and sanitation, food, basic living supplies
• Long term focus: Safe reconstruction
• Efficiency: 4 stars on

Doctors with Borders, also known as MSF (Medecins san Frontieres) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 and has been in China since 1988.  In the past five years, MSF has run two HIV/AIDS treatment programs, one of which is still ongoing, the other of which has since been ceded to local authorities.

In response to the earthquake, MSF quickly dispatched more than 20 doctors to the affected region, including an orthopedic surgeon, a medical doctor, psychologists, and nephrologists specializing in “crush syndrome.”  MSF has also worked with local partners to distribute relief supplies, including thousands of family tents and over twenty open-air tents serving as makeshift hospitals. MSF teams have been working with the Chinese Red Cross and other local health authorities to assess additional needs in the affected areas, and have in the past few days decided to focus on the psychological needs of the afflicted.

• Presence: In China since 1988 though with some disruptions due to government sensitivity
• Reputation: Internationally respected doctors; 1999 Nobel prize
• Short term focus: Treating patients; providing medical supplies and facilities, as well as basic living needs (this phase is ending now)
• Long term focus: Providing psychological support
• Efficiency: 4 stars on

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