Sanaburi Foundation (Nonprofit Capacity Building)

Sanaburi Foundation—Nonprofit Capacity Building
Location: Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture
Grant 1: ¥10,000,000 (approx. US$125,600)
Grant 2: ¥10,000,000 (approx. US$108,000)

One major challenge in the Tohoku region has been the relative weakness of the nonprofit sector and the lack of mechanisms to channel funds to the local nonprofit organizations (NPOs) that are being called on to help communities recover. In response, the Sanaburi Foundation was launched in June 2011 as the Tohoku region’s first community foundation. The foundation raises money from local donors as well as from those outside of the region and it then distributes them to local groups for reconstruction and community development efforts in areas affected by the 3/11 earthquake. Through the creation of charitable funds at the Sanaburi Foundation, donors can offer direct support to the initiatives of local NPOs, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), or social entrepreneurs, thereby encouraging effective solutions to the challenges and needs of the community. The Sanaburi Foundation acts as a local intermediary organization, bringing together individuals, nonprofits, and businesses.

The first grant from the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) helped the Sanaburi Foundation to strengthen its institutional base and conduct outreach, thereby allowing it to expand its staff and build their capacity. A portion of the JCIE grant came from the BTMU Americas Community Recovery Award. Thus far, Sanaburi has helped provide ¥1,583,150,000 (approximately US$12.5 million) in grants to 680 community projects.

In 2015, JCIE awarded Sanaburi Foundation a second grant to help it achieve sustainability by further expanding its institutional capacity for fundraising, branding, and communications. This will advance the organization’s mission of channeling funds from inside and outside Tohoku to community-based projects and, by doing so, will strengthen the foundations of the region’s nonprofit sector.

With the “2015 cliff”—the point at which four-year funding commitments made by major corporate donors are coming to an end—threatening the financial sustainability of many NPOs in the region, Sanaburi’s fundraising efforts are more important than ever to Tohoku’s nonprofit sector.