Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two Year-End Charitable Donation Ideas

Here are two ideas, in the event you're thinking of making a tax-deductible charitable donation for 2008 and don't have a particular charity in mind:

- Spirit of America. Spirit of America fulfills requests for humanitarian aid for locals from U.S. military personnel operating in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa. Some examples have included the provision of wheelchairs for Afghan victims of landmines, water purification technology for Iraqi villages, and solar-powered lanterns for Senegalese. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Hake, the tech entrepreneur who founded Spirit of America, a few years ago in New York, when he brought with him a couple of Iraqi bloggers (the brothers Omar and Mohammed) he had been working with on a project. What Jim has accomplished with SoA has been impressive. I've also had a chance to meet a couple of Marine officers who have been at the pointy end of the spear, implementing projects with SoA, and what those folks have done has been impressive as well.

- The Business Council for Peace. Bpeace supports women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda. Recall that in a recent post ("Questioning the Conventional Wisdom about the Benefits of Microfinance and Encouraging Entrepreneurship") we noted Professor Bateman's criticism of microfinance, that it funds small, "30 chicken farm" types of businesses at the expense of the sort of small and medium businesses that produce more jobs and economic growth. We also noted Scott Shane's similar criticism of American policies that encourage entrepreneurship without discriminating among those entrepreneurs with the best potential to build sustainable businesses. I suspect Professor Bateman and Mr. Shane might approve of Bpeace's approach, which is to identify and vet the "fast runners" (entrepreneurs with the best chance of building sustainable small and medium sized businesses) and back them. The graphic above, from Bpeace's website, summarizes the charity's approach. Incidentally, if you are a businesswoman, getting involved with Bpeace could put you in contact with the sort of successful American businesswomen it could be helpful to know. If you can do well while doing good, all the better.

I hope everyone reading this has a Happy New Year.


Anonymous said...

I wish someone graded charities and gave an "ROI" type metric.

DaveinHackensack said...

I was pleasantly surprised to receive e-mails from Spirit of America founder Jim Hake and SoA Executive Director Dennis Norris thanking me for mentioning their charity in this post. I guess Mr. Hake (or someone who knows him) is a reader of this blog.

Anonymous, there are organizations that attempt this, though I don't know how comprehensive they are. One such organization is Charity Navigator.