Monday, December 24, 2007

My 5 Favorite Charities in 2007

As a follow-on to my December 13 post about 7 Best Bets for International Donations, here’s a list of My 5 Favorite Charities in 2007:

Each of these non-profits did something to warrant at least a $500 investment from me in 2007 to help them end global poverty. Here’s a summary of why each group earned my support:

In only 7 years, Room to Read has established over 4,000 libraries, placed over 3,000 girls on scholarship to attend primary and secondary school, and built nearly 300 schools. Its programs have impacted approximately 1.5 million people and have earned the non-profit numerous accolades, including Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award and Charity Navigator’s 4-Star rating. Despite Room to Read’s amazing growth, 800 million people still lack basic reading and writing skills, and 100 million children cannot afford to attend primary school.

International Development Enterprises (IDE) helps the extreme poor – the 1.1 billion people who struggle to survive on less than $1 per day – to lift themselves out of poverty through extremely affordable water-based agricultural technologies and access to markets. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognized IDE’s work with a $13.4 million grant. Approximately 70% of the world’s hungry are subsistence farmers or farm laborers.

Unitus accelerates the growth of microfinance institutions that help small-scale entrepreneurs lift themselves out of poverty through microloans averaging $93 per entrepreneur. Unitus helps its partners to grow their client bases at an average of 110% per year, versus the industry average near 15%. The non-profit earned Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award, Charity Navigator’s 4-Star rating, and a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Nearly 100 million people in the world currently have access to microcredit, leaving 400 million microenterprises without access.

Kiva links small-scale entrepreneurs throughout the world with individual lenders around the world. I got such a kick out of lending Indonesian pig farmer Ni Ketut Astuti a portion of her $175 loan to help raise pigs she can sell at a profit, that I purchased several Kiva gift certificates as Christmas presents. As of December 23, 2007, Kiva’s average loan size was $612, suggesting to me that they don’t often reach the poorest of the poor. Nevertheless, they’re a great market development vehicle for microfinance. After Kiva has hooked you on microfinance, leverage your investment with Unitus.

CARE works in 69 countries around the world to fight poverty through a variety of means. With $650 million of revenue, CARE is approximately 50 times the size of each of the other 4 organizations in my top 5. Its size gives CARE the resources and infrastructure to reach people most organizations couldn’t even hope to reach. On the other hand, CARE’s size also makes it difficult for me to measure the results of my investment with them. In any case, CARE’s programs touch the lives of tens of millions of individuals each year. CARE received Charity Navigator’s 4-Star rating.

1 comment:

MaryB said...

Hi Ryan,
I just wanted to thank you for your generous support of Unitus, and for drawing attention to us through your blog. It is great to be in the company of so many high-impact charities on your "favorite charities" list! I am really happy that you chose to include us, and I look forward to continuing to follow your blog posts in 2008! Happy holidays!
Mary (from Unitus)