I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard Kiva.org mentioned in the past few months as the best example of a smart giving vehicle.
(Kiva facilitates on-line transfers of money between lenders and microfinance groups making loans to people living in poverty.)
While I like Kiva their primary function is lending, not giving. And there is a difference.
When I lend money there is the expectation that I will get it back (usually with interest.) The money is still “mine” and I am just letting someone else borrow it.
When I give money I let it go. I release control of the money as “mine.”
Giving money is radical in a world where money is seen as the most important thing in life. We all want more of it. Why would we give it away?
If you spend any time around young kids playing together you invariably hear or participate in this exchange:
“It’s mine! That’s mine.”
A scuffle, tug of war, hitting and/or crying ensues as one child tries to maintain control of the item that has been labeled “mine.“
The parent/adult steps in to mediate with the admonition, “Share. You need to share.”
Fundraising is our grown up way of sharing. In giving we remember that it is ok to let go of what we have labeled as “mine.”
Sure, lending is important too and as we’ve seen with successful microfinance programs, lending can be a powerful positive change tool for people disadvantaged by poverty and living without access to capital.
But let’s not confuse lending with giving and miss the opportunity to explore the land beyond “that’s mine.”