Kiva.org and the future of philanthropy

28 07 2009

Two months ago, Bernie Michalik kindly set up a virtual card-blog for my IBM farewell, complete with a donation widget from ChipIn, raising $165 as a parting gift. After scratching our heads for a few weeks, we finally figured out how to cash that amount via PayPal (after paying quite a hefty fee).

Inspired by Jamie Alexander, of Pass It Along fame, I then decided to use the opportunity to try out Kiva.org. Kiva was recently featured at Time.com as one of “10 Great Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund”.

Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.

I divided the amount among 5 entrepreneurs, and you can follow the progress of those loans here.

Conventional wisdom suggests that good deeds should be kept to oneself, but the more people know about services like Kiva and MicroPlace, the better. Kiva’s success led to an unusual supply-demand situation last year: having more money available to lend than people asking for it, according to this New York Times article. But just to keep things in perspective, take a look at some of the possible shortcomings too, so that you can make a conscious decision.

In the next few years, I expect more and more institutions who depend on public donations to follow Kiva’s “data-rich, transparent lending platform” model, showing exactly what happens to your contributions throughout the whole value chain. Donations are scarce resources, and being transparent goes a long way in gaining credibility and loyalty.

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7 responses

28 07 2009
The Orange Chair » A very simple and personal use of Web 2.0

[…] To make it even better, another IBM web 2.0 expert, Jamie Alexander, inspired Aaron to take the gift money and provide it to Kiva. The money raised for the gift is now helping entrepreneurs in El Salvador, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cambodia. You can read more about this at Aaron’s blog. […]

28 07 2009
A very simple and personal use of Web 2.0 « Smart People I Know

[…] To make it even better, another IBM web 2.0 expert, Jamie Alexander, inspired Aaron to take the gift money and provide it to Kiva. The money raised for the gift is now helping entrepreneurs in El Salvador, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cambodia. You can read more about this at Aaron’s blog. […]

28 07 2009
smartpeopleiknow

Cool! And you are already getting the money paid back! Excellent.

28 07 2009
bartman905

An excellent story, a great example of using Web 2.0 and globalization – first collecting money from around the world and then lending the same money around the world. I’ll look into Kiva.org personally as well and will try it out when I get a chance as well – thanks for the inspiration!

28 07 2009
smartpeopleiknow

I hadn’t thought of that: the notion of collecting the money FROM around the world and then sending it back out TO the world.

If the world isn’t quite yet flat, it is getting flatter.

Or to paraphrase Louis XIV: The World Bank? It’s us.

29 07 2009
Aaron

Ric and Bernie, I haven’t thought about the flat world meme when I wrote this post, thanks for highlighting that angle. Next time I’d like to try http://www.globalgiving.com. MicroPlace seems a bit too corporate-y – says the guy who worked for Unisys, IBM and RBC 😛

13 08 2009
Euwyn Poon

Aaron, Wokai (http://www.wokai.org) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Oakland and Beijing that lets anyone in the world contribute microloans directly to farmers and other micro-entrepreneurs in rural China. Thought you might be interested in our organization given your support of Kiva (we’re big fans, but they don’t serve China).

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