There are three in particular that I'd like to personally endorse.
The first is Affordable Housing Institute:
AHI's mission is to help pro-poor innovators build healthy housing ecosystems worldwide, with an emphasis on the Global South.
The second is Kiva.org.
Kiva.org is an effective and personal way to contribute to prosperity in the developing world. Kiva lets you connect with and loan (not donate, but loan), money to small businesses in the developing world via a credit card or paypal. By choosing an individual on Kiva.org, you help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid the funds are deposited back into your Kiva account. You may then elect to either withdraw the original amount or "roll-over" the funds into another qualified business. Kiva partners with existing microfinance institutions. In so doing, they access outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. The local "on the ground" partners understand local economies and needs and are therefore especially able to assess qualified borrowers. The partners upload their borrower profiles to the Kiva web-site so you can loan directly.
Kiva is able to foster interpersonal connection at very low cost due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The real time, ever changing profiles featured on the website are actual people who are dedicated to improving the lives of themselves and their families through hard work and entrepreneurship.
Finally, I would like to introduce you to Heifer International:
Heifer's goal is to help to alleviate hunger and poverty through education and targeted gifts of livestock. These animals provide breeding stock, saleable products such as wool, milk and eggs. A central component of the agreement that Heifer has with every recipient is that the first offspring will be "passed forward" to another individual in the community and that that recipient in turn will follow the same principles.
I personally support each of these organizations and I encourage you to investigate them further. I can honestly say that one of the great pleasures of my life is being able to contribute or loan to these worthwhile groups. For a few dollars you can change the course of a family's life for the better. Try it, you'll be hooked.
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