Coca-Cola and the Japanese Red Cross have rolled out a vending machine that lets users donate money directly to the vending machine. Making use of the fact that Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita in the world, with about one machine for every twenty- three people, the simple introduction of the “charity button” is aimed at making it easier for users to donate towards the rebuilding of areas hardest hit by the recent disasters in Japan.
Users are given the option of donating and as with a normal purchase the buttons light up when the money is inserted but instead of receiving a beverage when pressed, the machine emits a loud “Thank you very much for the donation”. The units themselves are branded with the iconic red cross and have some images of the work the Japan Red Cross are currently doing around the world and in Tohoku as part of ongoing relief efforts.
Whilst this certainly makes it a lot easier for members of the public to donate using the ubiquitous machines, it may be even more effective if users actually receive something for their donations. Adding an incentive, for example a limited edition pin badge that donators can wear with pride displaying their generosity, may help to drive more people to part with their yen. Ultimately it would be great to see specific charity vending machines that rather than added on as a side function, raising funds could actually be the main feature of such machines, and are seen around town as much as the beverage vending equivalents.