Regardless, Andrew gives every year to Kiva (throughout the year) and Child's Play Charity (he always donates to the IWK). Andrew kindly agreed to write a guest post on why Kiva is awesome, and how it works. :) Take it away my Andrew!
I don't know if anyone watches Oprah anymore, but apparently last night was her last “favourite things” episode ever. If you're not familiar with this, it basically involves Oprah giving away products to screaming men and women in her audience in order to generate buzz for her sponsors. Besides the hedonistic cruise and the giant 3D TV, she actually did some good and brought the spotlight on something on MY favourite things list: Kiva.org.
Kiva is one of those micro finance sites all the kids are talking about these days. The general idea is that people in third world countries need loans for their businesses, but more often than not local lenders charge a ridiculous amount of interest making a loan not a great idea for a lot of people. Kiva is an American company that makes deals (or as they say, “establishes connections” ) with local micro lenders (field partners). The field partners will disperse a loan to someone who needs it, they will then post the borrower's story on Kiva, and people like me (and maybe you!) can browse the stories and profiles to look for someone to lend our money to. Kiva then uses that money we pledged to pay back the field partners. The cycle then runs backwards, everyone pays everyone back until I have my money back and can lend it again. It's like a charity yo-yo, you can lend the same $25 over and over again!
Of course, there is always the possibility of people not paying back their loan, in which case you could possibly lose some money. That's pretty much the only risk involved though, and while Kiva states that the chance of losing your money is small (something like 98.9%), I've been at it since February 2009 and haven't lost anything yet. The best part is, if after your loans are repaid you decide that you hate helping people you can withdraw your money through paypal and buy yourself something nice for trying!
$25 is like, what? A yoga class and a half? Well if that is still too much for your tiny heart to bear, go to www.groupon.com/kiva in the next 10 days and for $15 dollars you can buy $25 worth of credit to use on Kiva.org. So do it!