Innovative Philanthropy: Donating via the Loo in Japan

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September 29, 2011; Source: BBC | Found in a city-hall toilet in Japan: 10 million yen. Wrapped carefully in plastic. Accompanied by a note attached saying that it should be donated to tsunami victims because the donor was “alone” and had no use for the money. (In case you were wondering, 10 million yen is about $130,000.)

In Britain “making a donation to the National Trust” is a euphemism for an, er, extended bathroom visit, but this story is a bit more literal. In any case, we find the faith in humanity exhibited by this story refreshing in light of all of the admonitions from experts to “give carefully.” And, in fact, this faith appears to be well-placed, because the money was indeed handed over to police to be passed along to relief agencies.

This is apparently not the first time that contributions have been left in the commode. The BBC reports that in 2007, 400 envelopes, each containing a 10,000-yen ($130) note, were found in the toilets of local council buildings across the country. “At the same time, 18 residents of a Tokyo apartment building found a total of 1.8 million yen ($23,400) stuffed into envelopes in their mailboxes. Nearby, 1 million yen ($13,000) was apparently thrown from an apartment block above a local shop.” Most of that money appears to have been handed in to the police. As for the mysterious WC benefactor, he or she was never found.—Ruth McCambridge