July 15, 2011

Japan's Red Cross Gets Donations From Vending Machines

If only charitable giving was as easy as buying a Coke at a vending machine. Well, now it is—at least in Japan.

A Coca-Cola bottling company in Japan and the country's Red Cross have joined together to enable people to make donations by putting money into a vending machine, which in Japan is a popular way to buy items like mobile phones and food.

Donations are paying for recovery efforts under way in the wake of March's devastating earthquakes and tsunamis.

Sayaka Matsumoto, a spokeswoman for the Japanese Red Cross Society, said in an e-mail to The Chronicle that she is not aware of any effort to bring the concept to the United States.

People can give in two ways through the vending machines that bear Red Cross logos. They can buy drinks  at the regular price and a portion of the sales will  be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. Or they can press a button and contribute directly with a gift of 10 yen or 100 yen. If they do, the machine then offers audible gratitude: "Thank you very much for the donation," it says in Japanese.

Since the vending machines are new, "the amount of money donated is still small," Ms. Matsumoto wrote. The bottling company, though, plans to establish 100 vending machines by the end of this year throughout Japan, she adds.

Last year, the Abrinq Foundation in Brazil installed vending machines on subway platforms to raise money to help people who live on the streets.

Donors were offered the chance to give three different amounts; in return they received a thank-you card from the machine. Called "Vending Machine for Good," the effort was "conceived as a means of raising donations in an effective, creative, and less invasive manner," text from the video below tells viewers.