Giving is a smile that comes back April 29, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe

The Metafilter Kiva Team has been in existence for just less than one year. In that time 190 people have made $19,225 in loans - for grocery stores in Cambodia to rock music outlets in Palestine the effect of your loans are felt around the world in significant ways. Still, it represents just a handful of MeFites: less than two-tenths of one percent of the total members of the site.

I would like it if you too joined our Kiva team. I would like it more if you shared the experience with someone you love enough to wish to include them in this vital effort. Teamwork is the best way forward.

I have accepted a job with the United Nations and will be going to Sudan in several weeks. Kiva is not on the ground there yet. I plan to share the experience of microlending. Please join us to share now.
posted by parmanparman to MetaFilter-Related at 1:47 PM (47 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I got a weird email from Kiva this morning saying that the dude I loaned money to might not make his fundraising goal and to urge my friends to loan, that my loan will "expire". Doesn't this guy already have the money?

"If the loan cannot raise $350.00 in the next two days, it will expire,
and no funds will be sent to the entrepreneur. Raised funds will instead
be refunded as Kiva Credit into the lender's account."


What? I thought there was a whole "exposé" saying that you aren't *actually* lending these people money. I'm so confused.

Anyway... poor guy. :(
posted by yeti at 1:52 PM on April 29, 2010


I encourage all who are able to participate to do so! Great job to those MeFites who are involved already. I'm living paycheck to paycheck myself so I can't in good conscious sign onto a loan BUT I know plenty of you probably can.

Again, great work guys. Almost 20k in loans is just staggering and shows that MeFi is more than just a best of the web blog - we are a solid community, a community I am damn proud to be a part of. It almost makes me tear up thinking about how beautiful of a thing we have going here.

MeTa has been host to some bickering lately, some personal grudges, what-have-you, but things like this show we are more than a bunch of raving madmen and women - indeed, if anything solidifies my commitment to this community its projects like this.

I love all you little snowflakes!
*hugs MeFi*
posted by deacon_blues at 1:53 PM on April 29, 2010


It may be helpful to explain what Kiva is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:02 PM on April 29, 2010


I'm a metafilter member (obviously) and loan money on Kiva. I prefer to keep my online personae separate, and private, which is why I am not part of the metafilter team. Just another data point regarding your numbers.

Though if it is possible to be part of a team and keep everything anonymous and private I will join.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:07 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


That 'expiring loan' thing seems to be new since the last time I loaned (privately) and it makes me feel odd about loaning again. I assumed I'm actually lending to the organization and then the loans are made to a person on their side. Why would an individual person's chance for a loan then expire? But then I know next to nothing about the ins and outs of micro lending.
posted by kanata at 2:15 PM on April 29, 2010


I'd like more information on how grocery stores in Cambodia rock music outlets in Palestine. Could they rock music outlets elsewhere or possibly rock things besides music outlets?
posted by DU at 2:23 PM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I, too, use Kiva but a loan can only count towards one team and I'm on a team with some of my colleagues so no Team MeFi for me. :(
posted by sveskemus at 2:25 PM on April 29, 2010


Though if it is possible to be part of a team and keep everything anonymous and private I will join.

You can make your whole Kiva account anonymous if you follow these steps (from the Kiva FAQ which is annoyingly not linkable):

Step 1: Log into your Kiva account.
Step 2: Click "My Portfolio" at the top of the page.
Step 3: Click "My Lender Page" at the left of the screen.
Step 4: Select "Anonymous" under "Display Name."


I assume that the people who show up as Anonymous in the MetaFilter team members list have done that. And although a lot of people use their real names for their Kiva profile, that's not required either (mine is just listed as burnmp3s and doesn't have any identifiable information in it).
posted by burnmp3s at 2:31 PM on April 29, 2010


I used to loan on Kiva until I was repeatedly spammed by a member there. Kiva refused to do anything about it and actively lied to me. I'm not entrusting my cash to a company that behaves like that.
posted by Solomon at 2:42 PM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just got this from Kiva:
"Thank you for supporting a Kiva entrepreneur in Benin. As the Kiva
Fellow placed with ALIDé, Kiva's field partner
in Benin, I can tell you first hand what your loan has meant.

For starters, your US $25 is the equivalent of about 12,500 CFA francs, the currency used in Benin and thirteen other countries in Africa. This is quite a bit of money and more than most Beninese people are used to seeing at one time. To give you some perspective, here are some things you can buy for just 100 CFA francs (roughly 20 cents):

• An egg and avocado baguette sandwich
• A second hand t-shirt (involves a bit of bargaining)
• One or two pre-sliced pineapples (depends on their size)
• A ten minute ride on a zemidjan (a motorcycle taxi)
• 20 fried plantains
and it made me hungry for an egg and avocado sandwich. That sounds delicious.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:55 PM on April 29, 2010


Solomon, how did Kiva lie to you?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:31 PM on April 29, 2010


Oh crud, that reminds me I have credit lying around that needs to go back out. Thanks!
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:45 PM on April 29, 2010


Congrats on your new job, parmanparman!
posted by amtho at 3:51 PM on April 29, 2010


Yeah, I was tempted to join the Kiva team but it's just a little too misleading for me.

For people not familiar with Kiva, or for those who think they are but actually aren't, you ostensibly choose people to make microloans to based on the information, etc, posted on the Kiva site. But that's not actually true; Kiva has already loaned people money. When you choose someone to give a loan to, you really just give Kiva the money and they loan it to whoever they want.
posted by Justinian at 4:12 PM on April 29, 2010


Signing up right now, thanks parmanparman for the reminder, it's been on my to-do list for a while.
posted by arcticseal at 4:25 PM on April 29, 2010


Kiva has already loaned people money. When you choose someone to give a loan to, you really just give Kiva the money and they loan it to whoever they want.

That's OK with me; whoever they loan it to needs it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:59 PM on April 29, 2010


That's OK with me; whoever they loan it to needs it.

I disagree. I don't want to fund someone's bar unwittingly so I don't give to Kiva. I'm also not convinced that it's in the long term best interests of any of those countries to adopt the individuated model of US-style entrepreneurship. I'm not against Kiva, just would rather donate my money directly to other charities. YMMV, etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:15 PM on April 29, 2010


Joined.
posted by ColdChef at 7:10 PM on April 29, 2010


Kiva generates a return on investment, doesn't it? I'm getting to the point where I could afford to lend them some money, but if there's no payback, I'd choose to give it to a charity instead.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:23 PM on April 29, 2010


Although I suppose even if lending them money pays no return, at least I get the money back so that I can give it away again...
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 PM on April 29, 2010


The Winsome Parker Lewis said: "Solomon, how did Kiva lie to you"

I was told on two occasions that measures were being put in place to prevent the situation happening again, but when I pressed a third time for a time frame, I was told that in fact there were no measures of the sort being planned. I got the distinct feeling that I was being fobbed off by the first two emails and only received the third to shut me up.
posted by Solomon at 10:10 PM on April 29, 2010


The big Kiva discussion about how it works
posted by adamvasco at 11:11 PM on April 29, 2010


I'm also not convinced that it's in the long term best interests of any of those countries to adopt the individuated model of US-style entrepreneurship.

I am also opposed to the American style "privatization of social assistance" model that individual charity donation entails. If nation states are going to continue to be around they need to legitimize their existence by taking care of the basic needs of their citizens.

Let's stop having MetaTalk be a platform for charity appeals, period.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:31 PM on April 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are many things I agree with in this discussion. Kiva was not my idea. I had originally asked that the Metafilter Scholarship program be restarted for the tenth anniversary celebration. That proposal was denied. Kiva came in its place. I have no regrets for being a leader; it is in my nature to lead by example.

This journey has mirrored my own in fundraising. I am good at it but don't wish to do it. It is a very difficult mission because although "It's not about me" is the tagline the profession likes to stress to itself, finding ambassadors outside of the development process is extraordinarily difficult. I was so pleased to find so many willing ambassadors here and tried hard to show how the process of delegate creation could be done so quickly in an established community. This effort was denied when I attempted to bring it to a CASE (Council for the Advancement of Schools of Education) meeting in Washington, DC in 2009.

Major gifts fundraisers tend to disuse and discount the internet as a way to raise funds. I taught myself fundraising out of necessity for a public radio show I was at the time producing. When I started, I was using Yahoo Mail and moved to a CMS when it became available. I have felt very fortunate to have been involved here and watch this evolving conversation. The constantly moving dialog made me more aware of how to interact with developing communities and cemented the feeling of what the internet means to me.

The hardest part of helping is involvement. Being involved is a continuous process. Fundraising is a continuous process of strategy and will. Strategy is like a never-ending meeting and sucks the living soul out creativity. Will is human.

When I started on Metafilter it was a way of saying thanks for some amazing stories I brought to the BBC when I worked there. They loved the content I brought to them. The post about the Michigan company that refused to hire smokers was a major hit and brought more callers to FiveLive's late night programming than any other in 2005. It got me a lot of work.

When I did finally join I was the producer of a public radio show, Interfaith Voices. I joined because I lacked the social community I had developed in England. Social interaction is very difficult to find in Washington, DC beyond the job-level. In fact, I have no regrets in saying Metafilter saved me from feeling alone when I first came to DC and sustained me for much of the time I was there. For that, I am quite thankful to this entire community. 1353 favorite tags in four years don't lie!

I wish for a life where I am not dependent on the internet and can rely on other sources for stories that will feed the audiences I enjoy working with. I am not there yet. Thank you all so much for four wonderful years and I wish you all the best. I'll send a postcard to Jessamyn and hope this community stays as vibrant without me as it was without me.
posted by parmanparman at 12:11 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am very interested in this Kiva thing, and will read up on the old discussion. It sounds great in principle, and I would love to be a part of it.

Kiva has already loaned people money. When you choose someone to give a loan to, you really just give Kiva the money and they loan it to whoever they want.

Is there a similar organization where this is not the case?

Also, five fresh fish asked about if there is a return on the investment - it would be great if there was something comparable to prime interest, although a simple repayment wouldn't keep me from taking part either.
posted by molecicco at 3:43 AM on April 30, 2010


Let's stop having MetaTalk be a platform for charity appeals, period."

As Nelson Mandela once astutely stated: "Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice."

Parmanparman - keep up the good work. I hope you are able to link up with my buddy in Juba and I hope to get up and see you both whilst you are there.

Go team MetaFilter.
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:13 AM on April 30, 2010


Ok, I joined, I loaned, I meant to do so earlier, and thanks for the reminder.

But now I'm pissed. Stupid facebook tried to get me to brag about my loan (including amount, ick) on my facebook profile (which is under my real name, which I prefer to keep unmixed with this handle if I can, although I'd be quite findable to anyone who really cared, so please don't care). I already opted out of the other-website-info-sharing on facebook. I'm listed as anonymous on Kiva, too. I even went to the facebook link to be sure to opt out of individual other websites having access to my info.

I don't give a damn if it's for charity, facebook, I don't want you to share my info! I've unchecked all the options to get it to stop, and it isn't stopped. GRAR, facebook, GRAR I say!
posted by nat at 7:08 AM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have no regrets for being a leader; it is in my nature to lead by example.

Hey parmanparman, I'm not really opposed to people giving money to Kiva, but if you are wondering why there are usually at least a couple of people who seem to be rubbed the wrong way by these threads, I think that attitude might have something to do with it. There is something about the Kiva threads that seem a little self-promotional about them, that they are more about parmanparman than Kiva. Writing comments about your life story and how great you are doesn't help with that.

Thank you all so much for four wonderful years and I wish you all the best. I'll send a postcard to Jessamyn and hope this community stays as vibrant without me as it was without me.

Does this mean you're leaving? I don't think that's necessary, but I do think if you changed your approach somewhat you would get less pushback and be able to do more good for the world.
posted by grouse at 7:31 AM on April 30, 2010


I don't really have anything to say about parmanparman, but I'm still a little confused about the Kiva "controversy." It seems people are essentially upset that their dollars didn't go to Cause X but went to Cause Y instead. Haven't charities always worked this way? Money is fungible; as long as the people you wanted to help are getting helped, by money taken out of the big pot that you contributed to, what's the problem exactly?

But yeah, I agree that their attitude (re: solomon's story) leaves something to be desired. I wouldn't want to work with an org that treated its contributors that way either.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:30 AM on April 30, 2010


I wouldn't have minded so much if I hadn't been lied to. If they'd said in the beginning that there were no plans for anything to change, I'd have been miffed, but accepted it. That they specifically said that there were plans, and later said there weren't when I asked for specifics, really annoyed me.
posted by Solomon at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2010


but I'm still a little confused about the Kiva "controversy."

I'd say most of the time it's the same as every "I wouldn't pirate things if the company would just X" arguments - nothing but a lame excuse to preserve selfish behavior.
posted by soma lkzx at 11:24 AM on April 30, 2010


I don't really have anything to say about parmanparman, but I'm still a little confused about the Kiva "controversy." It seems people are essentially upset that their dollars didn't go to Cause X but went to Cause Y instead.

Furthermore, the end result is the same either way. You choose a business on the Kiva site, and the return generated by that business is coming back to you. Whether it was your dollar or somebody else's dollar at the start seems irrelevant as long as you have full control over who you're investing in.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:32 AM on April 30, 2010


and what languagehat said
posted by adamvasco at 11:52 AM on April 30, 2010


I'd say most of the time it's the same as every "I wouldn't pirate things if the company would just X" arguments - nothing but a lame excuse to preserve selfish behavior.

Many of the people who dislike Kiva give to other charity organizations instead. Likewise, many of the people who pirate things also buy things from companies who "do X".

I know this may be confusing for you, since you seem to believe that other people's morality depends upon obeying your rules, but principles aren't always just an excuse.
posted by vorfeed at 12:27 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just re-loaned some money I forgot I had lying around up there, and was also squicked out by the facebook dialog, which I thought I had opted out of--and which perhaps there is no real opting out of.
posted by maxwelton at 4:25 PM on April 30, 2010


I'm glad many people are happy and satisfied with their Kiva involvement. I have looked at this charity and decided to pass on it many times, mostly due to analysis that seems to indicate that microloan programs don't result in a long-term, overall reduction of poverty. They seem to become yet one more piece of the shifting credit/debt/crisis/benevolence cycle - there is a strong argument chronic poverty in the aggregate tends to be a function of systemic issues and not of short-term cash-flow challenges. So I'm sort of where Meatbomb is coming from on the microlending approach.

I don't mind MetaFilter coalescing around the occasional charity project, but it should be understood that charity is personal, and not everyone will support every project with equal conviction. That doesn't make them bad people, it just means that we all have a different and personal approach toward using our charitable dollars.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are there any memorable AskMe threads about which charities are "best"?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on April 30, 2010


Are there any memorable AskMe threads about which charities are "best"?

We had a short thread to hash it out.

We agreed down to the last mefite that monied east-coast elites were the folks to rely on for advice on charitable giving, as, frankly, they have so much experience with lucre.*

No news there, of course. But being online and tech savvy, we suggested that a younger person from a good school--maybe someone who has left their job on the Street--would be the ideal person to bend all this confusing modern technology to their will and make it a force of good in the world.**

* Most of the rest of us have never seen even a modest sum like $100,000 all in one place, let alone used to prop up the Chesterfield. Just as you absolutely cannot critique music without being a musician or a weigh in on a sportsman's performance without having lettered in the activity, you can't possibly give financial advice without having enormous wads of the folding stuff at the ready.

** Albeit with very modest, if not comprehensively documented, overheads, not to exceed 100% of the donations made to the 503(c) established to contain this bending force.

posted by maxwelton at 2:53 AM on May 1, 2010


something about Kiva.org squicks me out
posted by The Lady is a designer at 3:47 AM on May 1, 2010


Me too.
posted by seanyboy at 7:14 AM on May 1, 2010


There are alternatives to Kiva, perhaps less squicky?

Microloans
Lend for Peace
United Prosperity (slightly different model)
posted by NailsTheCat at 9:24 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about just volunteering your time, either directly in the field, or working to improve the income generating abilities and opportunities for the over looked and underserved at rates 1/10 of market price? Imho, I'd rather do that than hand over cash, though I understand that may not be viable, feasible or desirable for everyone.
posted by infini at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2010


working to improve the income generating abilities and opportunities for the over looked and underserved
I'm intrigued. Could you expand on this please?
posted by adamvasco at 11:01 AM on May 1, 2010


How about just volunteering your time, either directly in the field,

I looked into volunteering $50 worth of my time directly in the field in Benin, but the commute was just too much. So I gave some money to Kiva, because this is what they do.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:31 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


adamvasco ;p you have my document and when I get it up in some kind of online form, i'll post it to the projects forum :)
posted by infini at 4:00 PM on May 1, 2010


parmanparman's account has been disabled.

?

Bummer.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:05 AM on May 4, 2010


Odd. So did that maybe have something to do with accepting the UN job and leaving for Sudan?
posted by Miko at 8:20 PM on May 4, 2010


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