If any of you tend to donate around the winter celebratory period and are looking for somewhere new and different to which to dedicate your funds, take a look at http://www.kiva.org
It’s actually a microfinance organization, not technically a charity. Kiva is a fund-raising organization that serves as a middle-man between lenders (like you!) and microfinance banks and nonprofits worldwide. It targets the poorest of the poor, who have skills but are ineligible for loans in the more traditional banks in their area, which often also charge crippling interest rates. Many of the microfinance partners offer business, health, and other life-skills education, and many focus on empowering women. Almost all of them do charge interest, as they have to keep themselves in business, but their rates are reasonable, as shown by the 90some% repayment rate across the board.
You pick a business to donate as little as $25 to, and then over the next 2-24 months, you will be repaid the full amount and may get more in-depth updates on the business’s progress through volunteers and employees working in the field. Then once the money is back in your Kiva account, you can lend it out again, donate it to Kiva to cover operational expenses, or get it back through Paypal to be used for anything else you’d like. Now is an excellent time to get involved, as the microfinance partners have a monthly limit, depending on their resources and track record with Kiva, so the pickings can be kind of slim at the end of the month.
I would particularly like to point you to a business I’m helping finance:
Many of the loans are group loans, which helps encourage both community networking and prompt repayment. A highlight from the loan description:
Doris Boza is married and has 2 children, 2 and 4 years old. She tells us that her husband has abandoned her and during that period she suffered a great deal. She is the only one supporting her daughters. She has a convenience store where she previously sold only groceries, but little by little she was able to improve the selection. Now she sells meats, vegetables, fruits, clothing etc. In Yuali there are many weddings and baptisms and she wants to purchase merchandise for these special occasions. She has learned to appreciate herself as a woman and never allow herself to be mistreated. She is grateful to Finca Peru because she learned how to save money, to be strong, and have strong values. Doris’ dream is to provide her daughters with an education, until they grow up to be professionals.
Some of you in particular may be amused to note that this group consists of 16 women and one man who is holding a pie.