Thursday, November 29, 2007

Improve your vocabulary.

I was on the Clinton School of Public Service blog yesterday and found the neatest thing: is a click to donate or CTD site with twist: vocabulary lessons. Each time you correctly select the meaning of the given word, 20 grains of rice are donated to the World Food Programme. When you get the definition right you get a harder word (and the WFP gets rice). Get it wrong an you get an easier word. It's addictive, so be careful. As with other CTD sites, advertisers donate money for rice based on how many visitors test and improve their vocabulary. Yesterday 369,007,280 grains of rice were donated.

Every little bit helps. So visit and learn a little to give a little. It's a win-win! Have fun!

"Today the man who is the real risk-taker is anonymous and nonheroic. He is the one trying to make institutions work." - John William Ward

Monday, November 26, 2007

Get your money back.

You don't have to read So What Can I Do long to know that I'm a big believer in donation. We can donate almost everything: clothes, money, even life. But sometimes making a monetary donation just isn't practical. Thankfully there are many ways to do good for others and get your money back. Check out these lending opportunities:

--> This nonprofit organization allows the public to finance microloans throughout the world. Lenders can choose the entrepreneurs they want to support. With their very low rates of default, lenders almost always get their money back though they don't earn a return on their investment. I first wrote about Kiva two years ago.

--> This for-profit company just launched last month. They allow the public to buy securities that fund microfinance organizations throughout the world. "Lenders" earn a return on their investment, but are not able to choose who they fund. Learn more by reading this interview with the founder.

Kiva and Microplace may appear similar, but they have different business models. There's no reason you can't lend through both, especially since you'll likely get your money back. For broader lending opportunities, consider these options:

--> Loan to people in the US and elsewhere. If you practice due diligence you may well earn a nice return.

--> Loan to people in the US and elsewhere. If you practice due diligence you may well earn a nice return.

--> Loan to family members and friends. Having a third party involved could help reduce or prevent disputes and broken relationships.

And if you need a loan to start a small business, stop using payday lenders, get out of debt, pay medical bills, etc. consider registering with one of these companies as a borrower. Lenders, if you choose carefully, you'll be able to help someone in need and earn a return on your investment. is devoted to just these kinds of opportunities. Now that's socially-responsible investing.

"Self-pity in its early stages is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable." — Maya Angelou

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Redefine the holidays.

I opened Monday's New York Times and found the following full-page ad:
Let's redefine Christmas. By putting more Thanksgiving in it.
No sooner does Thanksgiving end, than the loathsome shopping season begins - a month-long compulsion to by something, anything, for everyone. We're pressed. We're stressed. And our money is wasted. But we can change all that by focusing on the giving. And redefining Christmas.
Give people donations to their favorite charities.
And request that they give donations to your favorite charities.

A lot more money would go to people who need it. Shopping would be easier and tax-deductible. And our giving would be more in keeping with the Christmas spirit.

The Dalio Family Foundation, which paid for the ad and accepts no donations from the public, ends by saying "The sole purposed of this message is to facilitate charitable giving. Please pass it on." So that's what I'm doing. Consider it: Less hassle. More good. Less taxes. It's win-win.

So this year, instead of or in addition to materials gifts, try giving and requesting charitable gifts. They are gifts that keep on giving. Happy Thanksgiving!

"History is a vast early warning system." - Norman Cousins

Monday, November 19, 2007

Give a child a family.

What do you have to be thankful for this year? As of Saturday, November 17, more than 3,300 children are thankful for their new adoptive parents. On National Adoption Day these children and their parents finalized adoption proceedings and made their families legal. Congratulations!

There are still 114,000 children in foster care, hoping for loving permanent families. Want more information?

* Visit
* Call 1-800-TO-ADOPT or 1-888-200-4005
* Write

There is a child waiting for you. You can change a child's life and your life for the better. Won't you consider being an adoptive parent or foster parent?

"Every child begins the world again." ~Henry David Thoreau

Make and keep a blood donation appointment.

I just came from my regular bimonthly blood donation. Making the donation appointment was on my to do list today and when I registered online I found a drive very nearby. How convenient! Here are a few ways for you to make a blood donation appointment.

* Call the Red Cross at 1-800-GIVE LIFE (448-3543) to find a blood drive near you
* Call 1-888-USBLOOD (872-5663) to find a community blood center near you
* Visit to make an appointment with the Red Cross online
* Visit to make an appointment at a community donation center.

Once you have your appointment, remember to drink lots of water in the days before and once you've given, pat yourself on the back for saving up to three lives. What a nice way to spend an hour of your time. See you in 56 days!

"Mankind must remember that peace is not God's gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other." - Elie Wiesel

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Send a net, save a life.

Back when I was in high school, my grandmother got food poisoning from some bad tuna. After she recovered, she told me, "I haven't been that sick since I had malaria in '37!" I was a bit surprised since, at the time, I didn't know malaria had been a problem in the United States. I remember responding, "You had malaria in '37?"

Well, malaria is no longer transmitted in the US, but 41% of the world's population lives in places where it is (Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, Hispaniola, and Oceania). Want some more stats?

--> Over one million people die each year from malaria, most of them young children.
--> In some parts of the world where transmission rates are high, there can be as many as 2 deaths per minute from malaria.
--> Life-saving treatments for malaria are relatively inexpensive: $0.13 for chloroquine, $0.14 for sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, and $2.68 for a 7-day course of quinine.
--> "Insecticide-treated bed nets can reduce transmission as much as 90% in areas with high coverage rates."

That's right: NETS SAVE LIVES. And you can too when you purchase a net for just $10 through the Nothing But Nets Campaign from the United Nations Foundation. Just visit to make your donation. And check out So What Can I Do - News for a recent press release about their work in Congo. And here's the great thing: because of Ted Turner's gift to the UN Foundation, every cent of your donation goes toward getting the nets to the people who need them. No administrative costs are taken out.

Mom (my grandmother) took quinine when she had malaria, but others won't have to if malaria can be prevented in the first place. So in honor of her birthday today (it would have been her 97th), I encourage all of you buy a net. I bought two. It's that easy: Send a net, save a life. Happy birthday, Mom!

"You go your way and I'll go mine."Griffin Henry Belk, grandfather of Fanilla Suttles Cobb, grandmother of Karama Neal

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Trade amongst yourselves.

I'm a big believer in barter and trade. It makes good use of good items, reduces waste, and allows you to save your cash for when you really need it. So in the spirit of clothes swap, I am pleased to present it's high-tech child-focused cousin, U and I Trade.

Visit to trade new or gently used children's clothes, toys, and other items with families from all over the United States. It's a great way to recycle the items your child has outgrown and give those things a new life.

And check out So What Can I Do - News for the latest press release from U and I Trade. They are now collecting items for donation to the people affected by the California Wildfires. Great work! Happy trading!

"Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and organize." —Albert Gore, Jr.