Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Pointing out good deals

Monday, March 12th, 2012

In Japan it seems that almost every company offering goods or services has a point scheme, so much so that some people carry a separate wallet just for customer loyalty cards. Keeping track of what you can use these points for and when they are expire can be a hassle, but if you fail to do so, you could end up losing out.

Get the point?

The end of March is the deadline for using up Eco Points and, according to Otona no Kaisha News, ¥11.5 billion’s worth of Eco Points issued are yet to be exchanged for goods. A government scheme to support eco-friendly practices while invigorating the economy, Eco Points are accrued when buying domestic electronic appliances and can be exchanged for eco-friendly items before the end of the Japanese financial year.

This looming deadline is perhaps the reason why the website Poi Tan (“point search”) suddenly rose to fifth place in Google Trend Word rankings on March 3. Poi Tan aggregates a dizzying array of information on points and air mile schemes to allow users to keep track of their point balances. The website shows visitors how to convert dormant points into other points: for instance,points earned at department store Takashimaya can be converted into ANA air miles. It also alerts you when your points are about to expire.

If after searching Poi Tan, you’re still none the wiser on how to spend leftover Eco Points, then it’s worth bearing in mind that they can be sent as monetary donations to victims or to fund volunteer work in areas affected by the disaster last year. It’s also heartening to know that Tsutaya also run a similar scheme in which points accrued at their stores can be sent to a range of charities including the Japanese Red Cross Society and World Wildlife Fund.

Donation with your drink?

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Rows of young people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, calling out for contributions are a common sight around Japanese train stations and storefronts at year-end. Now, another familiar row of characters is joining in the call, albeit more quietly: Vending machines around the country are now accepting charitable donations.

The “Heartful Vendor” drink machines were developed by the Red Feather Community Chest Movement (赤 い羽根共同募金), a 64-year-old nation-wide nongovernmental organization dedicated to suppporting social welfare. The vending machines are one idea to try to counteract an overall decline in donations. The organization says giving, which peaked in 1995, started to slide as organizations became more scattered and incidents of charity scams hit the headlines.

The vending machines, of which there are more than 600, make donating to various causes as easy as pressing a “keep the change” button. The last two buttons on the bottom row of drinks are marked “donate ¥10” or “donate ¥100.” Put in your coins, pick your drink (hot or cold, of course), and then press one of the buttons. A little sterile? Well, it won’t hand you a red feather like the usual money collectors do, but the machines do chirp “arigatou gozaimasu.” It’s also possible to simply donate money without buying anything. (But how could you pass up a hot, canned drink on a cold, winter’s day?) Each machine puts up a sign each month with the previous month’s collected total.

In addition to the Community Chest’s usual causes, some machines’ proceeds are earmarked for specific causes. Recipients include animal preservation projects like the famous deer in Nara and the storks in Hogo, J-League soccer clubs and the breast cancer awareness organization Pink Ribbon.

They’re mostly in workplaces and universities, though some have been spotted on the streets. Would you donate through a vending machine?

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