Goodwill Must Be Expressed in Various Ways Amid the Coronavirus Crisis

With no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, it is becoming increasingly important to support people and organizations in need. A society in which people support each other through various goodwill gestures must be created.

A donation drive to support medical workers and others by the Nippon Foundation has raised about ¥1.5 billion. It is said 90% of funds collected are from individual donors. A drive by the Central Community Chest of Japan collected about ¥1.2 billion.

Crowdfunding, in which donations and funds are raised via the internet, is also spreading.

On one major crowdfunding site, more than 60% of fundraising campaigns launched last year were related to the coronavirus, one of which raised more than ¥800 million. Many of the campaigns were raising funds for art, culture and sports organizations, as well as eateries that fundraisers support.

The increase in donation drives that accept credit cards and e-money online is probably the reason behind donations being received from a wide range of age groups.

It has been said that a culture of individuals donating money has not taken root in Japan compared to the United States and other countries, but this indicates signs of change.

The year 2011 was dubbed “the first year of donations,” when large amounts were donated in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The coronavirus crisis might trigger a new era of donation culture.

Individuals and organizations that need funds are now able to share information about their plights, it is hoped that the scope and options for donating will expand.

On the other hand, organizations that mainly rely on street fundraising have received blow after blow due to the prolonged pandemic.

The Ashinaga scholarship foundation, which supports children whose mothers or fathers died through illness, disaster or other circumstances, was forced to stop its spring and autumn street fundraising, which raises ¥200 million annually. It started crowdfunding last spring and raised about ¥22 million, far short of what it has previously raised through street fundraising.

If the fund shortage continues, it may destabilize the project. It is important to support the many organizations that are facing difficulties.

To establish a donation culture, it is essential for fundraisers to accurately explain their daily activities, the purpose of seeking support and how the funds will be used. A Cabinet Office survey showed that many respondents said they need such information to make donations.

There is also a need to further develop mechanisms to eliminate fraudulent and inappropriate projects.

It is desirable for donations to increase, but it makes no sense if such a situation leads to cuts in government budgets for social welfare. The central and local governments must take responsibility for extending the support that should be provided to people in need.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Jan. 30, 2021.