Japan’s home region donation model to act as an inspiration for proposals on the Finnish model

This new report provides information on whether a home region donation model like that of the Japanese Furusato Nozei could be used as a way to increase the vitality and wellbeing of Finland’s sparsely populated areas. The model cannot be strictly replicated as such for various reasons, but it could nevertheless act as a great source of inspiration. The report presents three possible models in respect of how the idea could be implemented in Finland. These models are built on the existence of already active local communities, associations, funds and foundations, people’s philanthropic motivations and municipalities’ adoption of participatory budgeting.

Ihmiset viettävät aikaa kodassa nuotion ympärillä.

The models could act as a tool for developing vitality and strengthening participation

The activity conceived here, based around home-region donation, can to some extent at least be implemented within the framework of existing legislation and by utilising already existing actors and operating models. Above all, the implementation process should clearly be about identifying and mobilising the right actors, stakeholders and methods. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that in addition to money, donating to the home region could also mean sharing expertise and network capital. Many former residents, seasonal residents and visitors could be motivated to share their expertise locally, if easily accessible channels and methods were available for this.

As you can see from the report, Finns are very eager to support home and leisure areas, and other areas with which a meaningful bond has formed. This is an asset that is important to recognise and which should definitely be utilised in the future

Johanna Ojala-Niemelä, vice-chairwoman of the Parliamentary working group on sparsely populated areas.

An experiment with operational models inspired by the Japanese model could also, however, serve as a catalyst for a more systemic change, especially now that the municipal level has to come to terms with a significant change in its administrative responsibilities. The proposals conceptualised in this study have been formulated in such a way that their implementation does not incur a significant legislative burden.

The report that has now been published provides us with valuable information about supporting the vitality of rural areas through volunteering. The models created are an example of great open-minded thinking that highlights local strengths and conditions.

Hanna Huttunen, chairwoman of the Parliamentary working group on sparsely populated areas

The report includes three alternative models as a basis for experiment:

  1. Home region financing as a crowdfunding model, where one receives a suitable “gift” in compensation
  2. Home region financing as a crowdfunding model without compensation
  3. Community support membership model

In all experiments, the goal would be to build and test, in practice, an operating model, on the basis of which the home region donation system could function. The goal would also be to test what kind of incentive system could possibly be built, based on the model and whether it could work (without the right to tax deductions) and how to get citizens and companies interested in participating in the model and to test its applicability in different types of municipalities and operating environments.

What could be a working Finnish model can only be found by boldly experimenting and developing. It is worth starting from the motivations and drivers that are already known in order to create a Japanese-style “everyone wins” situation.

Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith, project manager

In Japan, the home region donation model has been shaped over time

Japan’s home region donation model (often, perhaps erroneously, referred to as, “home town tax”) is a unique example of a nationwide multi-actor arrangement for additional local funding. The story of Furusato Nozei, a tool which has been developed into its current form over a period of years and is still being continually reshaped and redesigned, is based around a peculiar and unique combination of elements, including the platform economy, a digital market of significant size, a unique political context, mass movement, path dependency and the sum of lucky coincidences. Therefore, it clearly cannot be precisely replicated as such.

The experiment has however provided both valuable lessons and inspiration in terms of supporting local vitality, particularly in smaller municipalities and rural areas across Finland.An operating model based on volunteering, similar to that of local donation, could also be one way to strengthen local inclusion and regional vitality in conditions of multi-location and increasing place-independence, where it is important to find positive ways to support the formation of more multi-level identities and mutual understanding between city and countryside.

The survey commissioned by the Parliamentary working group on sparsely populated areas (HAMA) was carried out by MDI together with Mesenaatti.me’s Pauliina Seppälä and Petteri Niskanen, Tampere University docent Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko and Japan expert Ikuie Nakayama.

Materials

Final report: summary available in English

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