Kiva, Zombies, and The End of Charity

1) Kiva News
has been getting knocked around in the past month as it was recently reported that your $25 doesn’t actually go to that bike mechanic in India.  Instead, he already received a loan and your $25 goes to a a bigger pool that supports microfinance organization partners.  There is a good summary article from New York Review of Books blog (featuring a quick interview with my hero, Nicholas Kristof) right here.

My thoughts: Kiva’s marketing as donations to individuals is clearly a  gimmick.  So is just about any “adopt-a-child” program.  But these gimmicks have popularized microfinance and philanthropy in an ethical (and transparent if you read the fine print) way.  These are not weaknesses, but strengths in mobilizing consumers to get aboard the social enterprise bandwagon.

2) How Zombies Can Destroy the World
I just discovered the Zombie Research Society and their blog: they have some really interesting posts.  In all seriousness, it is great to see insightful writings that analyze the crossover of practical public health concerns and the upcoming zombie apocalypse — a great interdisciplinary approach to discussing important issues of pandemic.

3) I could not have said it better.
In an impressively well-written article from the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal, David E. K. Hunter eloquently explains what is wrong with the nonprofit sector.  It perfectly explains my bias toward social investing over traditional charity. The author focuses on three main unpleasant truths:

Unpleasant truth number 1: While nonprofits work incredibly hard, with passion and dedication, and often in incredibly difficult circumstances to solve society’s most intractable problems, there is virtually no credible evidence that most nonprofit organizations actually produce any social value.

Unpleasant truth number 2: Because so few nonprofits are willing to face this fact and ask themselves whether they are doing any good at all, or even as much good as they may be doing harm, we cannot rely on direct service nonprofits to fix themselves without a serious push.

Unpleasant truth number 3: In general, nonprofits do what their funders tell them to do. When funders make demands, more often than not the vision, mission, goals and objectives of nonprofit organizations give way. As the saying goes, We are what we eat. . . . and most nonprofits are what their funders make them.


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