As the holiday continues, Hanukkah is already upon us and Christmas not far behind, there is one thing on the minds of many Americans...how to give away money while still officially in tax year 2007! In addition, people are looking for unusual gifts, not only for others who already have everything, but for those of us who would prefer a gift which has more meaning.
There are the traditional "charities", 501 c 3s, to which one can give those gifts which do some good temporarally, but which must be rededicated each year in order for there to be any kind of sustainability. And then there are gifts which are not only tax deductible, but also continue to give, often for many years, beyond the initial gifting. Some of these organizations loan to entrepreneurs around the world, and some are umbrella organizations which promote various kinds of Social Business. One can also donate stock in Socially Responsible funds, many of which invest in the developing world, and have actually not seen the same decrease in values as many of the US-based stocks have in recent months.
A List of Good Places to Give the Gifts Which Go On Giving:
1. Ashoka-Good magazine recently did an interview with Ashoka-founder Bill Drayton which appears on The Huffington Post. Bill Drayton is one of those rare human beings who actually lives what he believes 100% of the time. He is both humble and extremely powerful, as he speaks with a calm, hushed voice which can wake up the "changemaker" in all of us. Anything Drayton is involved with is always about authenticity, providing directed encouragement, be it financial or otherwise, to exactly the right people and organizations and businesses. He is so focused that listening to him speak means opening one's mind to endless possibilities of solution-based realities. Ashoka also includes Venture Capital funds for good, investing in others investing in themselves and social business. Visit www.ashoka.org
2. Socially Responsible Funds- There are several socially responsible funds one can invest in and stocks can be donated to charities and written off, but also these stocks can be great gifts for children and grand children to teach them about investing and giving wisely. Visit this site.
One of the best funds also has a board member who has dedicated his life to change and was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2006, Dr. Muhammad Yunus. The Calvert World Values International Equity A and if you are more interested in keeping your giving closer to home, try some of the US based community funds such as The 1% or More in Community Investing Campaign launched by The Social Investment Forum Foundation and Co-op America, "to encourage people and institutions across the country to put their banking and investment dollars to work strengthening communities that have been left behind. The goal of the 1% or More in Community Campaign is to help grow the community investing industry to more than $25 billion in assets in 2007".
3. Microloans-. A very smart young man, Premal Shah, who had formerly worked for PayPal, has co-founded a non-profit with a genius of a way to help others help themselves, with a gift that truly would go on giving exponentially for years to come. As a co-founder of www.Kiva.org, Shah had helped create a way for this tiny San Francisco-based non-profit to partner with microfinance institutions around the world to supply loans for would be entrepreneurs. These loans are not only highly effective but the payback rates were higher than traditional banks. In addition, the majority of the people being helped were women, and thus families prospered. Business Week called it the "eBay of microfinance." The Wall Street Journal told readers they could now "act like a Noble Prize winner" because of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded in 2006 to a man who helped make microfinance famous, Muhammad Yunus.
Teaching one's children early on about giving intelligently is at least as important as what one learns at school. Social Entrepreneurship and Changemaker (as Bill Drayton's Ashoka calls them) programs around the world have helped create a snow-ball effect which is being seen on campuses, in competitions for business ideas even at the elementary school level. Social Entrepreneurship is one of many ways we can help to give every person on this planet the greatest gift of all, peace through the eradication of poverty.
(Disclaimer: I have no investments in any specific funds mentioned here. I am working on a feature film about Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus).
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