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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Don't need stimulus pay? Donate it

Staff writer

For those unsure of how to spend their government cash handouts or opposed to the measure itself, there is now a systematic way to donate the money to charity.

Eighty charity groups formed a fund Wednesday that lets stimulus handout donors pick from 17 categories, including children, developing countries, the environment and education. Of the money collected, 90 percent will be split equally among the groups in each chosen category. Donators cannot choose a specific group but will be allowed to make the payments online.

"There are individual charity organizations inviting donations, but people don't always know which one to go to, so we set up groups of trustworthy charities they can choose from," said Daigo Sato, chairman of Charity Platform, the nonprofit organization that organized the fund. All 80 charities are members of the NGO, which keeps close tabs on its members.

The stimulus plan has triggered unprecedented interest in donating to charity, said Masataka Uo, representative director of fundraising consultancy Fundrex.

"Japan has been relatively inactive in charity work compared with other countries, and Japanese people don't usually voice interest in charities," he said. "But this time we got the breakthrough we needed, and the many voices of people wanting to donate their handouts to charity have been picked up by the media."

Each participating organization has outlined on Charity Platform's Web site what a contribution of ¥12,000 — the standard handout for a working single adult — will do for those in need.

Child Line Japan says a troubled child could use that cash to talk on their help line for five hours. Moyai Independent Life Support Center said it would provide enough emergency support for four homeless people. Hunger Free World said the cash would pay for the distribution of 260 meals to malnourished babies worldwide.

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The Japan Times

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