October 21, 2010

Tips for Do-It-Yourself Foreign Aid

You don't have to be Bill Gates to change the world, according to New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. In his blog, he offers several ideas of small-scale, do-it-yourself aid that individuals can provide to make a difference in the developing countries. Among them:

Provide a microloan through Kiva or Vittana, online organizations that arrange small loans to individuals who are seeking to start or expand businesses (Kiva) or continue their education (Vittana).

Browse and give from the wish lists on Global Giving, another Web site through which charities around the world state their particular needs.

Sponsor a needy individual via a charity that arranges those relationships, such as Plan USA. “It’s also a way to introduce your kids to global issues, as you show photos of the person you’ve sponsored,” Mr. Kristof writes.

Do more than simply give money. Volunteer for a stint abroad, teaching English or doing other work, he suggests. And, he reminds readers, “people also need to sign petitions and write indignant letters to Congress.”

Mr. Kristof also lists a number of secular organizations that are focused on improving conditions for women in developing countries.

The blog posting is related to the columnist's article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, which details the experiences of individuals who spotted manageable but unmet needs in the world and decided to solve them by starting small, often Web-based organizations. Mr. Kristof reports that "do-it-yourself" foreign aid is catching on.

Three cups of tea, anyone? Please share your thoughts.