Donor Power alert! Donors control giving at Kiva.com
Here's a very exciting look at the coming Donor-Powered future of fundraising: Run, don't walk, to Kiva, an organization that lets donors help specific people in developing countries build and grow self-sustaining family businesses (that's microenterprise in the professional jargon). Here's how they explain it on the website:
Kiva finds outstanding entrepreneurs who need loan funding . . . and once approved, post each business' profile on our website. This is where you come in. You can choose to loan money online . . . in increments as low as $25 toward the loan needs of a business. With your participation, Kiva gives entrepreneurs access to the capital they need to lift themselves out of poverty. . . . Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive monthly email updates that let you know about the progress being made by the small business you've sponsored.
And you can really do it! There's a list of actual people and their businesses that need capital. You choose the one(s) that interest you, then give them money. When the entreprenuer you've helped pays back her loan, you can get your money back, lend it to new businesses (of your choice), or donate it to Kiva.
This is Donor Power!
Organizations like Kiva -- or existing ones that manage to make similar leaps -- will rise up and swallow the lumbering dinosaurs that can't offer their donors this level of choice and control.
Seriously -- go make a loan at Kiva. Then think how you might bring these principles into your organization.
There's an organization with a similar offer called nabuur.com. The difference is this one allows you to offer volunteer time and expertise to help solve specific problems around the world. I found it a bit obtuse. Still, it's really distributing power, and that can only lead to good things.
If you know of other Kiva-like nonprofits that are radically empowering donors, tell me about them! Especially if they're in sectors other than international development.