Last Minute Gift Ideas? How About Giving the Gift of A Loan?

December 21st, 2010

Last year, I gave my first loan via Kiva to a woman in Cambodia named Phea Nopp.  Phea wanted to purchase a water buffalo to expand her agricultural endeavors.  If she borrowed money in her own country, the interest rates would have been astronomical and Phea would have struggled to keep up with the payments, but through Kiva, Phea was able to secure a no-interest loan.   The money that I gave to Phea via Kiva joined the funds from several other people and together we all helped Phea to buy her water buffalo and increase her business productivity in Cambodia. Phea paid me back in full about ten months after she received my loan.

This year I doubled down.  I loaned money to two groups of women in Pakistan who were hoping to increase their agricultural endeavors as well.  Ultimately, I don’t care if I ever see that money again, but I think for the person on the receiving end, it is nice to try and pay their lenders back.  I know that I feel good when I pay back my loans.

I also donated money to Heifer this year.  Some of you might remember when myself and a few other folks from my town took a group of kids to the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas. Through that experience, we learned a lot about how people in developing countries live because we lived it ourselves for a twenty four hour period.  Visiting the Heifer Ranch enabled me to see exactly what Heifer is doing to help relieve poverty all over the world and they do it my favorite way.  They teach the people to help themselves.  They improve farming methods in often very environmentally friendly/low tech ways.  They mandate that the ‘gift goes on’ so that recipients of a Heifer animal must give a portion of their eventual herd or flock or crop away to other needy people.   I was extremely moved and impressed by the work of Heifer.

Both of these charities are set up to give gift cards to the people on your list and both are entirely secular in nature.  A gift card of $25.00 at Kiva enables a person to explore the Kiva site and choose a person to whom to give a loan.  Once the loan is repaid, you can either reclaim your cash or re-lend your cash.  It’s a gift that can keep right on giving.  Heifer also offers some great options for gift giving from flocks of geese, to honeybees to a gardener’s gift basket.

I know that a lot of people are struggling just to make ends meet this Christmas, not to mention buy a few gifts for the kids, but for those of you who are doing okay, or are casting around for a way to give something back, might I recommend these two great charities?  I can personally testify that they do great work.

Check Kiva out.

Check Heifer out.


  • We donated to both this year. They’re wonderful organizations doing wonderful things!

  • annmarie:

    Thanks for that information. We are doing pretty good this year and these sound like great charities to give to. Did you read about the bloggess readers giving away over 40,000 dollars in just couple of days? Pretty amazing.

    • Lee (sometimes known as Another Lee):

      Amazing how that snowballed – the world is indeed full of awesome people!

    • Rechelle:

      Jenny the bloggess is awesome.

  • I love both of these organizations! How neat that you got to visit the Heifer Ranch!

  • Priss:

    I give Kiva gift cards to my sisters, who love being able to pick who the money goes to. They both have all the stuff they could ever need and much prefer a gift like this that also allows their participation.

    For myself, besides the great good that Kiva does, I get a bang out of the fact that the atheist team is leading in loans by a huge margin.

  • I love Heifer International and have donated to them before. I have heard of Kiva and will have to donate to them as well. I, too, would rather support organizations that promote sustainability rather than providing food, health care, etc.
    Thanks for posting both on your organization, Rechelle

    • Oh my god, I am losing my mind (likely because I have read and graded 103 essays on the concept of caring in nursing). I meant, thanks for posting about both organizations on your blog….

  • Mackenzie:

    I hadn’t heard of Kiva until you posted about it last year, and I was thrilled to discover such an awesome charity. Glad to see a follow-up post ^^

  • M.R.:

    Thanks for the suggestion! I gave gift cards to four folks and now have four loans of my own out there.