ACT is a charitable trust formed from donations of Japanese citizen to support the self-reliance and development of people in developing countries in Asia.
Asian Community Trust (ACT) is Japan’s first “fundraising type charitable trust.”
Since its establishment in 1979, ACT has supported approximately 800 projects aimed at eradicating poverty and reducing the rich-poor gap, by more than 290 local NGOs in 15 countries/region in Asia through donations (trust fund) from Japanese individuals and/or organizations. As of March 2021, ACT has provided financial grants worth more than 875 million JPY.
Six reasons to choose ACT
1. ACT supports grassroots projects by the people for the people.
ACT is one of the 400 charitable trusts in Japan.
A “charitable trust” is a system where donations from individuals, organizations and corporations aimed to contribute to the society are entrusted to trust banks, which in turn, implement charitable activities on behalf of the donors.
In ACT, donations (which form trust funds) from individuals, organizations and business corporations are securely managed by four trust banks (trustees) and, following the wishes of the donors as well as advice from experts, are used to support the projects of local NGOs and NPOs in Asian countries
Through this system of charitable trust, ACT is able to support various excellent projects at the grassroots level.
In developing countries in Asia, there are many organizations that implement good projects aimed at supporting people in need but are having difficulties raising funds on their own. By identifying projects with the potential to produce good results and providing them partial funding, ACT supports change in the society and the resolution of issues by the local people themselves.
Why support the projects of local NGOs in Asia?※Click to view the details.
Local NGOs in Asia that possess experienced staff engage in activities from a variety of fields that range from basic education, healthcare to environment conservation for the benefit of the public, and are thus playing a very important role. It is said that in a single country, there are hundreds, even tens of thousands of NGOs. Supporting local NGOs is common for donor organizations or International NGOs in Europe and the United States, but is still relatively new approach in Japan. Hence, ACT, which has been cooperating with local NGOs and has provided support for more than 620 projects for the past thirty five years, is a unique existence among Japanese NGOs and donor agencies.
For more than forty years that ACT has worked together with local NGOs, a significant number of NGOs were able to grow and step up their presence in the field of social development.
In the Philippines, the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD), which was supported by ACT in mid-1980s, has come to provide microfinance services to 7.1 million poor women (as of Novemver 2020). In Thailand, the Duang Prateep Foundation (DPF), which ACT supported in its early years, has grown to become one of the leading NGOs in the country. Former NGO leaders in the Philippines, Indonesia, and other countries have taken positions in the government and are now actively playing important roles in nation building.
By cooperating with such local NGOs that have achieved great results, as well as NGOs that have the potential for growth, donations to ACT are being used in an effective way, and are contributing to the self-reliance and resolution of problems of local people.
What is a “charitable trust”?※Click to view the details.
A charitable trust is a system where an individual or a corporation (settlor) entrusts a part of his/its assets aimed at making a social contribution to a trustee (e.g. a trust bank), which in turn, manages and uses the funds and performs the tasks needed to realize this objective. The charitable trusts encompass a wide range of fields: from academic scholarships, to grants for projects on environment protection, international cooperation, and other areas.
The charitable trust system allows for the certain realization of an individual or corporation’s wish to make a social contribution through simple means. ACT is also recognized as an “Authorized Specified Charitable Trust.”
An “Authorized Specified Charitable Trust” is a charitable trust that fully serves the public, has fulfilled certain conditions and is recognized by the minister in charge. In the case of ACT, the minister in charge is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This recognition is renewed every five years.
Charitable trusts commonly end when the initial trust fund, which is donated by an individual, a group of individuals or a corporation, is exhausted from spending for project costs (grants) and administrative costs. The benefactor (settlor) seldom makes additional donations to the trust and cases of donations from third parties are uncommon.
However, there are so-called “fundraising type charitable trusts” which are constantly open to donations from the wider public, and within which multiple funds (called “Special Funds” in ACT) can be created. Asian Community Trust is one of these fundraising type charitable trusts.
Fundraising type charitable trusts are managed by utilizing not only the initial trust fund donated by the benefactor (settlor) but also from donations and funds raised from the general public.
There are two ways of donating funds to ACT: (1) donating 10 million JPY (approx. 83,000 USD) or more will create a “Special Fund” where the donor can specify in which country/region or area the funds can be used; or (2) donating any amount which will go to the ACT “General Fund.”
2. ACT identifies and selects outstanding projects based on the advice and support of specialists
ACT supports projects selected among proposals from non-governmental organizations and/or educational institutions in developing countries* in Asia.
The screening of grant projects is implemented by members of the Executive Advisory Committee who are specialists in the state of affairs in Asian countries.
By gathering such specialists with the knowledge and expertise, ACT ensures that your donations are put to good use.
*Developing countries in Asia (recipients of aid from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC)): Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. (“Asia” as categorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Click to learn more about the structure of ACT.
3. “Special Funds” are created through very easy steps
By donating 10 million JPY (approx. 83,000 USD) or more, a donor can create a “Special Fund” where he/she can specify the name of the fund as well as the country/region or area that he/she wants to support.
Since there is no necessity to negotiate with government-related agencies to set up a special fund, a Special Fund can be created within 3 to 4 months just by concluding a contract with the trustee (a trust bank among the four banks of trustees of ACT).
Click to learn more about how to set up a “Special Fund.”
4. ACT funds are being safely kept and operated by Trust Banks
Donations to ACT are managed and operated by four banks of trustees (Trust Banks, namely, Mitsui Sumitomo Trust Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Trust Bank, Mizuho Trust Bank, and Resona Bank) in accordance to terms of the Trust Act of Japan. Rest assured that donations are in safe hands.
The overall financial flow of ACT is also being closely monitored by a trust executor.
Click to view the contact details of each Trust Bank.
5. Donations to ACT are tax-deductible under Japanese laws
ACT is recognized as an “Authorized Specified Charitable Trust”; therefore, donations and membership fees paid to ACT are tax-deductible under Japanese laws.
What is an “Authorized Specified Charitable Trust”?※Click to view the details.
An “Authorized Specified Charitable Trust” is one of the “Specified Charitable Trusts” that has certain trust objectives approved by the minister in charge and must have the capability to sustain its performance in line with its objectives. “Specified Charitable Trusts” that have received approval for not more than five years are called “Authorized Specified Charitable Trusts.” (Reference: “Trust Companies Association of Japan” website.)
The objectives of ACT are consistent with the one of the objectives of charitable trusts, that is, “to provide economic assistance (technical assistance included) to developing countries.”
※”Specified Charitable Trusts” are charitable trusts that have fulfilled certain conditions such as (1) assets after the entrustment period ends shall not be returned to the benefactor (settlor); (2) the contract of creating a fund cannot be terminated by agreement by both parties (settlor and trustee); (3) assets contributed shall be limited to money. These conditions are clearly stated in the trust contract, and the trustee must be a Trust Bank or other institution as approved by the minister in charge.
6. Experienced Secretariat conducts monitoring of grant projects and submit progress reports to donors
The Secretariat searches and identifies prospective grant projects that are consistent with the interests (target project/program area, country/region) of the donors. After the grant projects are selected by the Executive Advisory Committee, the Secretariat staff monitors the progress of the projects until their termination.
With more than thirty five years of experience, it can be assumed the most significant factors to bring about the success of a grant project are the flexibility of its support scheme as well as its long-term commitment. In ACT, one project is given an average of three years of grant support and each year, a staff member of the Secretariat visits each project in their respective country assignments to monitor the progress and check the implementation structure and approach of the projects. The Secretariat is also flexible and open to consultations with the implementing organization regarding the next step towards the improvement of the project.
The Secretariat which acts as a “bridge” between donors and fields is required to have the following important qualities:
- The ability to consult with the donors and propose the most appropriate grant program
- The knowledge of the problems and needs in the target country/region, and the ability to assess whether the local NGO possesses the capacity to make full use of its inputs (money, technique, goods, manpower)
- The ability to check and assess whether the grant is being appropriately used and the project is producing good results (output/outcome) during the course of monitoring or after the completion of the project
The experienced and skilled Secretariat supports projects from start to finish ensuring the success of the projects; therefore making effective use of donations to ACT.