Allowance at our house gets placed in three envelopes:  Spend, Save and GIVE.  Sometimes is it hard for a child to find a place to “give” outside of the next friend’s fundraiser – you know the drill – cupcakes to support the dance team, fruit for the band, fair trade coffee for choir, calendars for orchestra and the list goes on to include poinsettias, popcorn and paper.

Well we have found a new way of giving that simultaneously provides meaning and education, and is as simple as kickstarter (which is also a good place for giving by the way.)  This on-line giving tool has a different twist – it isn’t charity, but a loan.  You don’t get the album that was produced, a ticket to an event, or a signed postcard. You get the satisfaction that you helped a real person, without resources, to accomplish something inportant.

Kiva, is our giving tool.  As noted right on their home page, Kiva “connects thousands of people to borrowers and partner institutions around the world, working together to create opportunity and alleviate poverty. It only takes $25 to get started.”

And the best news yet is that they really do pay the loan back and when enough has been paid back, you can reinvest what is in your account again!

Many people choose an individual starting a business, but my daughter explained that she likes to choose people who have a special need that they have no financial way to meet.  The money she reinvested tonight came from a woman who paid back the loan she used to fund her child’s wedding.  The new loan is going to a woman in Mongolia to buy a plane ticket for her son so he can get to his new job.  I don’t ask a lot of questions; I let her click the world map to select a location and then search through the listings – using the check boxes to indicate her preferences like gender or a sector she’s interested in, like the arts, housing, education, etc.  (The search function works just like a shopping site where you select size, color and price range to filter your options.)

I know she is learning about poverty around the world and she is opening her heart to the people she gives to.  She can log in and check how the repayment is going, but not because she needs her money back.  She checks because she cares and she wants to consider another investment even before the envelope at home is refilled for disbursement.

Micro loans – they’re the next BIG thing.  Have you tried it?