When I say “microfunding” the first thing that comes to mind is probably Kickstarter or Indiegogo, sites where budding entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists can propose projects online and have a better chance of reaching a large crowd of potential investors. Most of these potential entrepreneurs are average individuals who are essentially pre-purchasing the end result in order to help fund the item being made. These are becoming more and more mainstream, and are actually great platforms for bringing economy and opportunity to places and people that may not normally have a voice.
But the microfunding that I wish to speak about right now is philanthropic in nature. Where a relatively insignificant amount of money can change the lives, economies, and health of communities and people all over the world in a more direct way. What makes philanthropic microfunding so interesting is that it is some of the smallest ways individual people can make the biggest differences. Here are a few microfunding organizations of charitable natures -all very unique- that I have researched:
Kiva.org isn’t charitable giving, it’s charitable loaning. With as little as $25, you can, with the help of Kiva, help people in remote and poor countries and cities to start a business. When the entrepreneur is funded, you will get regular updates as to the progress, and as soon as they are capable they pay the loan back to you, which you can then withdraw, reinvest, or donate. For example, you can aid Davit, a man in Kapan, Armenia, buy seedlings and diesel fuel to help his agriculture business go from part-time job to full-fledged farm in the spring. From cloth and thread for a seamstress to scissors for a hairdresser, you can help empower locals all over the world and in some of the poorest communities to take the lead in starting businesses that can help build the local economy while still helping them to maintain financial responsibility.
Unbound.org is a monthly subscription of $30 that goes to one specific person, with a name and a face, who needs help getting a leg up. Unbound works with locals to build skills, businesses, health, and education for those who need it most. Your money has an immediate impact. It helps kids stay in school, funds microloans for small businesses or pays for medical care and housing for elders. Most importantly, it will go directly to someone who needs it.
DonorsChoose.org is a microfunding site that allows teachers to post classroom project requests for underfunded school programs. Every request is vetted by Donors Choose, and can vary from pencils and paper to extra school books to microscopes for teachers and classrooms that are ill-equipped and ill-funded. You can donate as little as $1 to the classroom project of your choice, with all of the supplies being shipped directly to the rooms that need it.
Awesomefoundation.org is a little bit more free-flowing and less constrained. With less rules to adhere to, the types of projects the grants can fund are a little more ranged. They have 78 chapters in 16 countries and each chapter accepts submissions for the grant. The chosen proposal from each chapter gets a grant of $1,000. From community mural restorations to an affordable and accessible robotics competition, the grants proposals are voted on by the “trustees”. Anyone can apply for a grant, and the only real requirement for consideration is an indefinable “awesome”-ness. There may be an opening in an existing chapter you can join, or you can reach out to start your own chapter. All you need is 10 “trustees” who are able to give $100 and will all be part of the selection process for the grant.