Livelihood

Powering Virtuous Circles

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Where we give

There’s no shortage of opportunities to support important causes. Lots of charities are local and community based. Some are more internationally and future-oriented such as Amnesty International, EFF, Long Now Foundation, World Vision, the ACLU, and Oxfam to name just a few. Everyone can add their favorite.

But let’s say you were interested in a “tool” to leverage the least amount of money into the largest measurable effect over time. For that I’d like to recommend a type of giving that multiplies itself. Over the years, these are the criteria I’ve adopted for this challenge:

1) The help is aimed at the lowest, those with the least, where small makes a huge difference.
2) The gift expands itself, gaining amplitude with each cycle.
3) The range is global.

Think of it as enabling philanthropy: take a minimum of money and aim it at the precise point where it can do the maximum good, multiplied by many generations. Maximum good is measured simply: when you enable someone to enable someone else. That is a virtuous circle.

I’ve found the following three do-good organizations to meet these criteria: Heifer International, Opportunity International, Trickle Up. They fund the neediest in the world. They are highly-evolved programs that produce amazing results. And one tangential result is that when we give to these three, we feel optimistic.

-- KK 12/28/03