First of all, if you are reading this — realize you are extremely, extremely privileged. The world is a big place and chances are good you don’t have to look far to find someone less privileged than yourself. For those of you who have traveled to 3rd world countries striken with poverty, or simply wandered neglected neighborhoods in your area, you already know this. For those who haven’t ventured outside your “safe zone”, you need to open your eyes to the world around you. If you can’t be thankful for what you have in life, you’re missing the boat. With that said, my philosophy has always involved the concept of giving back to improve the lives of others. If I don’t leave this world a better place than when I entered it, I couldn’t live with myself.
Of course I’m not going to say donating to Haiti or any other cause is bad, but I’m a huge advocate for sustainable change and organizations that operate under that model. Think about it — if someone gives you something for free, it’s easily neglected. Microfinance, which is the niche I choose to support, offers a hand-up, not a hand-out in the fight to alleviate poverty. It’s the “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” concept.
Here are a couple microfinance organizations I’ve supported and urge you to lend to in the name of sustainable change: