Campaign to foster “a culture of giving” in Japan enters third year

For the first time, partner organisations from all 47 prefectures of Japan will be getting involved in the “Giving December” project, designed to encourage people to donate to charity in Japan, the Japan Times reported.

Giving December

Japan lags behind other developed nations when it comes to donating to good causes. While, in 2016, individuals in the US donated a total of around USD 282 billion in 2016, according to data by the Giving USA Foundation, those in Japan donated only USD 6.8 billion over the same period, the Japan Fundraising Association found in its recent survey.

In the US, over 30 per cent of donations are made in December. It makes sense, then, for a campaign focused on improving these numbers in Japan, to take place during this season of giving.

The message of the campaign which began in 2015 and is supported by a network of non-profit organisations, local governments, companies, universities and others, is “Donate more. Invest in the future of society”.

“The amount of donations in Japan is small among the advanced countries,” Hiroshi Komiyama, head of the promotion committee for this year’s “Giving December” was quoted as saying.

Organisers of the Giving December campaign hope that the projects planned under the initiative will help to close this gap by instilling in people the joy of giving and the benefits of charity, which then translate into positive changes in society.

The Japan Fundraising Association (JFRA) is one of the main bodies behind the campaign. Set up in 2009, the association was founded “to create a society with a new culture of giving.” The Association’s CEO, Masataka Uo, also heads the committee’s secretariat.

According to the report, about 500 entities (up from 397 in 2016) will participate in the initiative. A record number of projects under the “Giving December” header will also be carried out, said Uo. Last year, there were 71 projects, while this year, there are expected to be 125.

According to the Japan Times, an initiative by high school students to produce an original stamp, or digital sticker, on LINE, a popular messaging app in Japan, is among the 125 projects. Other examples include the official certification of company mascots – collectively known as “yuru-kyara,” meaning “loose characters”  – to promote the cause, and a restaurant in Sendai offering customers a special drink menu in which part of the proceeds will go to charity.

“Giving December” has also been received support from celebrities. Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates spoke at a forum that year to discuss philanthropy and innovation, the Japan Times reported.

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