It’s that time of year when charitable giving spikes. As the tax year comes to a close, many Americans scramble to make donations to help their fellow man – contributions they can also deduct from their taxes. (Although, when it comes to charitable giving, I was somewhat surprised to discover that only 30 percent of U.S. taxpayers itemize their deductions, which means the bulk of donations are provided without any tax benefit at all.)
In any case, it’s also the time of year when instead of exchanging material gifts, we make a donation on behalf of our friends and relatives, often to organizations charged with fighting hunger or helping to combat poverty. Oxfam International and the Heifer Foundation are go-to international options that I’ve both given to and received from in recent years. It’s a virtuous mode of gift giving to be sure, but it’s always fraught with the question of ‘where will my donation do the most good?’
This week I received a guide to Tips for Holiday Gift Giving from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, which answered - or at least properly framed - several of my key questions. The guide included both giving in the United States and Around the World, which addressed a wide range of areas - from sustainable farming, improving incomes, to health care. It got me thinking about what I’d like to give, or in the case of development through enterprise, what I might like to invest in, before the close of 2012. Of course, there’s always the mainstay of Kiva or casting about for the social enterprise de jour on Kickstarter. But what if we had a list of organizations that accept tax-deductible (or not) donations and investments to build social enterprises?
So here’s the question for NextBillion readers: What crowdfunding sites have you used to either invest or make a charitable donation in recent months or years? I’m most interested in institutions that support small and growing businesses, either as a lending facility or even a form of equity, for the small investor. Please let us know which groups are on your radar either through the comments section below, Twitter or Facebook. I’m hoping this results in a list that we can build and share as a resource over time.
By way of disclaimer, I should mention that anyone looking to donate or invest, as the case may be, should complete their due diligence and read as much as they can about any organization before donating or investing in it. Any funds or crowdsourcing applications for social enterprises that might be suggested by readers on this thread should not be considered endorsements from NextBillion.
OK, the legalish stuff out of the way, I’d really love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
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