One of the things I don’t like about some charities is the lack of specific impact. Where is the money really going? Here are two charities that use the internet to add transparency and interaction to your charitable giving. In addition, they offer a way to leverage your donation to create even better change.
ModestNeeds.org is a non-profit 501(c) charity, operating predominantly online, with a goal of helping people who live paycheck to paycheck survive past life?s unexpected speed-bumps and perhaps save them from a slippery slope to financial ruin or even homelessness. Most of their ?grants? are less than $300 and go for things like unexpected medical bills. You can see all the money requests, and even vote on which requests to fund. The neat thing is that it started with just one teacher giving 10% of his salary every month.
And you know what? About 65 percent of Modest Needs recipients become donors themselves. In 2006 they found an anonymous donor that matches all contributions 100%, doubling your donating power. What’s even better is that they just renewed it for 2007! Props to Dr. Taylor (the one teacher and now full-time director). We support them with a donation every year since discovering them in 2004.
Kiva.org is also a 501(c) organization, but with a microfinance twist. From their site:
Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
You’re not giving them money, you’re giving them an interest-free loan. This is actually better than a donation in my opinion, as it’s almost like your donation is leveraged. I love the idea of being able to take as little as $25, lend it to an entrepreneur in Honduras, and give her the chance to make a living for her family. And then get that money back, and do it again. And again. Of course, you could technically lose your loan amount (it is not guaranteed). However, microfinance loans worldwide have repayment rates of 97%, and Kiva.org?s current to-date repayment rate is 100%.