Thursday, July 31, 2008

Micro-Philanthropy

In my role with Catalyst I am responsible for the distribution of a much larger budget than most people or families will give over decades. In my private life the scale is much more modest. In both cases, I want to make the most impact with the resources I have.
For smaller private donors there is often a belief that the only option is to give a tiny drop into a large bucket where you might have an interest, but little meaningful influence and personal connection. That is no longer the case. Givers of all scales can choose to give to causes that are very intimate.
In many cases this may be through giving to local charities in their own community. there are churches, political groups, neighbourhood associations, schools, libraries, advocacy groups, shelters, food banks, seniors supports, and many more possibilities probably within your postal code.
Beyond that, there are ways to give to needs further afield that are just as specific. North American philanthropy guru Fred Smith (he won't appreciate me referring to him that way), pointed me to a fascinating article about one man's efforts to help with easily manageable donations to individuals with key short term needs. You may want to check out Modest Needs.
If your interests tend to something more international you might appreciate the work of Kiva, a lending organization that allows average people to donate to a specific. pre-approved project for someone in the developing world to start on the path to sustainability.
One of the pleasures of these types of donations is how close we can feel to those who are being helped. Charity no longer needs to be corporate and distant. (And as an aside, some traditional charities are going to struggle if they don't learn to engage donors at this level.

1 comment:

Ryan Calkins said...

I just wrote a post about the same topic, and thought you might want to compare notes. http://www.seattlemicrofinance.org/?p=47