Thursday, September 1, 2011

Charitable loaning

One of my favorite "charities" is actually not truly charity, and it doesn't involve giving away my money.  Instead, it's about loaning money.

Through Kiva (a non-profit organization that links up lenders with people who need micro-loans) I've loaned a total of $8,800 to 40 different people.  My actual outlay for that money is a bit over $1000, slowly added into that loan-pot over several years.  As my loanees repay the money, I just lend it back out again.  I really enjoy the chance to see what people all over the world are doing -- Kiva posts their stories and gives me updates.

Because I can loan out at little as $25 at a time, and because I could always choose to get my money back or to reloan it to another person, this is a frugal way to help people all the way across the world.

The stories of the people I'm loaning to have an indirect impact on they way I view my own life, too.  For example, in the US there are actually more automobiles than drivers.  But when I loan somebody $100 so she can buy a bicycle to transport her goods to market, that puts my own car into a different context.  I like those reminders; they make me more content with what I already own.

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