“If you’re in the luckiest one per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.” Warren Buffett
I take for granted that most people are to some extent concerned by others and many contribute in different ways to alleviate others’ burdens. Some find it that these contributions should rather be kept private. In this regard, I take the opposite approach.
I try to be as public as I can, hoping that I may serve the causes I contribute to also from the awareness point of view. Take this blog post as an example. I expect that it will be read by over 100 people. If just a reader feels compelled by the message and decides to look for a cause to contribute to, the time spent by me writing this post will have been worth it.
Let’s go and see the different causes I decided to support in this 2014 (1):
Kiva, Vittana, Oxfam, MSF, Slavery International, Wikipedia, Fundacion Hombres Nuevos, Gapminder, American Association for Cancer Research Foundation… those are the causes I decided to support this year. If not one of those, I am sure that you will be able to find one which resonates with you. Do yourself a favour and contribute to it. It can be just 25$, the cost of diner at a restaurant. You’ll feel much better.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank
(1) You may check out similar posts I wrote about contributions to NGOs in 2013 and 2012.
Few days ago I gave my 100th micro credit with Kiva. This particular credit went to Philomene:
Philomene (image from Kiva).
“Philomene is 48 years old, married and has five children, ages 8 to 19. Her husband is a builder. She wants a loan to buy more fruits to sell, such as yellow bananas and passion fruit. The profits from savings will be used for paying children’s school fees.”
I got to know about Kiva from my friend Bruno at the end of 2008. I immediately liked the idea and I gave my first loan through it soon after, in January 2009.
The idea is very simple: giving micro credits via internet to small entrepreneurs in developing countries. Kiva facilitates the process establishing a website to channel the funds and creating network with local organizations which will disburse the money and collect repayments.
Since what you give is a credit, when it is paid back you can re-lend the money, thus, the same 25$ may be used by several entrepreneurs along the years. See my case:
Loan count since 2009.
The fact that I have given 101 credits of 25$, doesn’t mean I have dedicated 2,525$ in these 4 years. I have dedicated to Kiva just above 550$. With them I was able to lend and re-lend up to above 100 credits. Now I still have close to 400$ in outstanding credits (being re-paid), after having donated some 130$ to Kiva to help with their operating costs and having lost just 28.19$.
I want you to take a second to think what do those 28$ lost mean. The default rate along these 4 years in my case has been 1.5%, this is close to nothing. Take into account Western countries mortgage default rates: close to 10% in Spain, and though lower in USA it reached over 5% a few years back.
Of all the loans that should have already been paid (75) just 3 ended with a loss. In one I lost less than half of the 25$ and in other 2 thirds. The entrepreneurs came from Africa and I am not upset by not having gotten back 28$ from them. I just hope that their situation improved since the time they were forced to default. With the 3rd credit which ended in loss, I lost 0.06$… due to currency exchange, meaningless.
Do you want to know some more statistics?
See below a map with coloured countries being the ones in which a recipient of one of my credit lives:
Regarding sectors: agriculture takes 30.7% of my credits, followed by food (22.8%), manufacturing (13.9%), retail (10.9%), education (6.9%)… (I would like to give more credits for education, but within Kiva there are not so many displayed; to cover that need I collaborate with another organization, Vittana).
I told you that I was introduced to Kiva by a friend. I also sent many invitations and some gift cards to friends; 6 of my friends accepted them.
These were my first 101 loans. Loans that change lives…
January is the month of the year in which I take some time during a weekend to select which charities and non-profits I will donate some money (1). Let me introduce you to the 9 NGOs I have selected this year:
Kiva: this is a micro lending portal. This is the first non-profit to which I made a contribution. This is not truly a charity, as here you give loans to small entrepreneurs in developing countries. I have talked about in the blog sometimes. This year, for the 4th year in a row, I have added some more funds.
Vittana: another micro lending portal. This one is specialized on credits for education purposes, very similar to Kiva in its conception. This year, for the 3rd year in a row, I have added more funds, to help some students study nursing and engineering.
Oxfam: another well-known NGO. Oxfam mission is “to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice”, this is the 3rd year I help them :-).
Anti-Slavery: Can you stand slavery today? In the XXI century? I cannot. This is why since 3 years ago I am contributing to this NGO which works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world.
Fundación Hombres Nuevos. My father retired in autumn 2011. In January 2012 he was packing to spend 5 months in Bolivia working in the field teaching some underprivileged children maths, language… or just helping them do their homework. I think that only my sister had such a good opportunity in the past 2 decades!
My father discovered this foundation in a TV documentary about 2 years ago:
That sparkled again a vocational aspiration he had since completing his studies and he went on to fulfil it. I’ll try to get him to write about it… stay tuned.
Wikipedia: When was the last time you checked the Wikipedia? How often do you check it? Wikipedia’s self-description:
“Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia.”
For the second year running I contributed to #keepitfree.
Gapminder: you might have seen some talk from Hans Rosling, its founder. Gapminder is “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”, or better “Fighting the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands”.
Have you got 13 minutes? Why don’t you check this video about “Religion and babies” and let his performance convince you?
Finally, let me introduce you to the new addition to my list of NGOs:
Fundación Khanimambo. I was introduced to it by two friends, Nacho and Alberto. I loved the message of the NGO: “¿Necesitas sonreír? Déjate ayudar“ (Do you need to smile? Let us help you). It’s wonderful, the children from Praia Xai Xai, Mozambique, want to donate happiness to people worried and stressed in the rich countries. To do that, they need some money to enlarge their school, buy more pencils, papers, etc… Let them convince you (less than 2 minutes):
I understand that in these times of economic stress many will not have the opportunity to spare some funds needed by their own families to help others in need. For those of us who have a job, I truly recommend you to take some moments and go through some websites of different NGOs, charities, non-profits, scientific endeavours… I am sure you will find an initiative that will resonate with you. Go and direct some funds to it. You might feel a bit wary the first time. It’s OK. Spend 25$, 50€… (it’s only the cost of a dinner with your partner). You will not only help someone in need, you will feel much better after having done it.
If not for them, do it for you :-).
(1) I already published two similar posts in 2011 and 2012. In previous year I had set first 0.7% and then 0.9% of my net income as the minimum bar; this year I increased the contribution to 1.1%.
Every January I take one afternoon to direct at least 0.7% of my personal net incometo different NGOs. I already explained this in a post last year. In that post I also explained the origin of the figure, 0.7%.
This year, I wondered how development aid was faring taking into account the crisis in which most of the big donor countries are in. You may check the figures at the extensive database of the OECD, or just to get the latest data on Official Development Aid you may check last year’s release announcing 2010 figures (or the report, PDF). The figures of 2011 won’t be released until April, but as far into the crisis as one year ago the fact was that development aid had actually increased, even if still far from the 0.7% committment.
Official Development Assistance in 2010 per country, source: OECD.
Evolution of Official Development Assistance through 2010, source: OECD.
Which NGOs will I support in 2012?
Last weekend I took sometime to make the numbers and select the different organizations. In previous years I directed 0.7% in January and along the year for different reasons I ended increasing this contribution. This year, I am directing already 0.9% of my income in January and again I expect that as the year goes by I will increase that figure. I take the Nordic OECD countries as an example and see the 0.7% as a minimum threshold, not as the maximum goal.
The organizations I have selected this time are:
Kiva: a micro lending portal, that I have talked about in the blog sometimes. I added some more funds.
Vittana: another micro lending portal, specialized on credits for education purposes, very similar to Kiva in its conception. I allocated some cash last year in it for the first time, and this year I have added more funds, to help some students study industrial engineering.
Médecins sans Frontières. I started donating cash to MSF in 2010, in 2011 I became member of the French branch. I renewed my membership.
Oxfam: a well-known NGO working “to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice” to which I already contributed last year.
Anti-Slavery: an NGO which works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world. I find that only the thought of people being slaves in 2012 simply devastating. I already directed some funds to this NGO last year and I was positively impressed to find information about its activities when we visited the Museum of London last year.
Wikipedia: I guess this does not need any introduction, but I will make use of Wikipedia’s self-description: “Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project based on an openly editable model. The name “Wikipedia” is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and encyclopedia.” This is the first time that I collaborate in its sustaining.
Gapminder: in their words “a non-profit venture – a modern “museum” on the Internet – promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”, or better “Fighting the most devastating myths by building a fact-based world view that everyone understands”. If you have the chance, take a look at any of the videos of its founder, Hans Rosling, they are truly mind-blowing.
Before ending this post, I wanted to make two reflections.
First, why do I or why do people/corporations make this kind of contributions? Sometimes you hear criticism towards donations like “it’s for the tax deductions”, “it’s for marketing purposes”, “to show off”, etc. My personal view is that it doesn’t matter. It might be one or many of those reasons or none. What I believe is that the people in need do need the help and whatever the reason behind a contribution, it is welcomed. I do receive some tax deductions for the contributions for MSF and Oxfam as they’re based in France, not for the others. I also believe that the real contribution is the time dedicated by individuals working in cooperation, in the field, etc., in the end all what we give is a small percentage of our income / revenues.
Second, why do I write this post? Again, someone may think it’s show off. I’m fine with that. My goal is to get at least a reader to take a look at one of those NGOs, to think about dedicating her/his 0.7% to development aid… If I manage to do that, and I am sure I will (it worked in the past :-)), this post will be worth the time spent in writing it.
“0.7%” refers to the repeated commitment of the world’s governments to commit 0.7% of rich-countries’ gross national product (GNP) to Official Development Assistance. This figure was first pledged 35 years ago in a 1970 UN General Assembly Resolution.
Where does the figure “0.7%” come from?
I didn’t know, so I researched a bit and it seems that comes from Lester B. Pearson (PDF, 40KB), former Prime Minister of Canada, who in 1969 recommended that resources equivalent to a minimum of 1% of the GNP of developed nations should flow to developing countries.
This 1% would be made up of official development assistance, other official flows from the government, and private sector flows; the official development assistance component of the 1% commitment would be equivalent to 0.7% of GNP.
By 2005 only 5 countries of the OECD were meeting or exceeding the target: Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, not a surprise. The rest of them were well below, some even decreasing the assistance.
OECD 2005 Official Development Aid
What can we do?
Since some years ago, I dedicate 0.7% of my personal net income to development aid. I make the calculation every year in January, when I have an idea of how much I pocketed the previous year.
I took sometime last weekend to make the calculation, research a little bit and direct the funds to the selected NGOs, which this year have been:
Kiva: a micro lending portal, that I have talked about in the blog sometimes. I added some more funds.
Médecins sans Frontières. Last year, I already donated some cash to the Spanish branch after the earthquake in Haiti; this year I’ve become member of the French one: as a friend who works in development assistance explained to me, this helps the NGO to plan their activities, rather than relying on occasional donations.
Vittana: a micro lending portal specialized on credits for education purposes, very similar to Kiva in its conception. I learnt about it last year already and twitted about it, but it has been now the first time I used it.
Ofxam: a well-known NGO working “to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice”.
Anti-Slavery: an NGO which works to eliminate all forms of slavery around the world… incredible, “slavery” :-(.