Disaster strikes, and we think, “What can we do to help?”. The answers are “not much” and “a lot”, and often both are true at once.

T-shirt to support quake relief for Japan

CafePress is giving 100% of the profits from this t-shirt to earthquake relief in Japan

A few designers have created t-shirts whose profits will got straight to Japanese earthquake relief. This one is on CafePress, but Zazzle.com has them, as do lots of other places on and off the internet. Each purchase is small. Each resulting donation is tiny. But the cumulative effect is huge.

As we saw in New Orleans, in Southeast Asia and in Haiti, every little bit truly does make a difference. Simply texting a small contribution (most wireless customers can automatically send $10 to the Red Cross Japanese relief efforts by texting “redcross” on their phones to 90999 — and there are lots of other options) is nearly painless, but can generate tens of millions of dollars in aid overnight.

People are powerful when they design systems that maximize their tiny contributions and turn them into real action. Congratulations to these designers, and to companies like CafePress, for taking these small steps toward a giant effort.