Doing Good by Paying Forward

from The New York Times:

Doing Good by Paying Forward

Nonprofits of all sorts receive a flood of traffic to their Web sites in the last week of the year from people moved by the spirit of the season (or the race to lock in a tax deduction for donations before midnight on Dec. 31).

Perhaps the fastest-growing way to act on these altruistic instincts is participating in microfinancing. You take a relatively small amount of money and, through an online marketplace of sorts, give or lend it to a specific person or project whose story moves you. (Not all microfinancing organizations are nonprofits, however, so be aware of the differences.)

This fall, Kiva, one of the leading organizations in a niche that includes others like DonorsChoose and the eBay-owned MicroPlace, came under fire in a blog post by a microfinance researcher named David Roodman. He took Kiva to task for inaccurate information on its Web site about how the loans, made to entrepreneurs in the developing world by its users, actually worked…

[eJP note: for more on microfinancing check out Every Little Bit Counts: Microfinancing in the Jewish Tradition.]