I was brought up to help those less fortunate than me. I like to help, but I’m not a fan of charity. I wouldn’t want to be the recipient of charity and for that reason, I don’t want to give it. I like to earn my money.
I was a Foster Parent with Plan Canada for many years, and felt that this met with my personal feelings about charity, since it was helping children receive education and proper health care. It wasn’t giving to adults who could be contributing members of society (in some capacity.)
About a year ago I discovered Kiva, an international microfinance company. The purpose of microfinance is to allow people in developing countries who don’t have access to traditional financing to get a loan for their business. Microfinance companies pool the money of donors and loan it to borrowers.
The donors don’t receive any interest. The interest paid is used to cover administrative costs of the microlending office and website.
For me this is a very positive way to assist those in need. The borrowers benefit because they can move forward with their business. Their local economy benefits from the boost. And I benefit from knowing that the recipient of my money has their integrity intact.
My kids and I read through the buisness plans of the people seeking funding and decide on a borrower. We discuss currency conversion and the possibility that if the country has a weakened economy during the course of the loan that even if the borrower repays the full loan that we might not get back the full amount that we loan. This has only happened once and amounted to less than a $5 loss.