Monday, April 28, 2008

Support US microloans and microlending.

Regular readers know that I am a big supporter of mircoloans. There are many benefits of mircolending and though much of the press is about microloans availability outside of the United States, microloans are also available in the US. Here are just a few organizations to consider:

* Grameen America "is a microcredit lender whose mission is to help entrepreneurial individuals, especially women, build credit and defeat poverty." This is a subsidiary of Nobel Larueate Mohammed Yunus' Grameen Bank which really popularized microlending. They are "Bankers for the Unbanked."

* Accion USA makes loans to small business people of up to $25,000 and provides financial literacy education.

* Prosper is a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending agency where almost anyone can request a loan that almost anyone can fund.

* LendingClub is also a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending agency. Again, almost anyone can lend or borrow.

* is another P2P agency that facilitates lending between family and friends. The loans can be for business, real estate, or personal purposes.

Note that only Grameen and Accion are dedicated to reducing poverty and are purposefully designed to raise standards of living. If you are a borrower, compare your options to see which plan will work best for you. If you are lender, consider your needs: Do you want to make a donation or would you prefer to be paid back? Would you like to earn interest? Do you want to choose who you lend to? Consider the options, then choose the organization that works best for you.

With all these options and ethical goals, maybe Shakespeare's Lord Polonius was wrong when he said "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."

"Never mistake motion for action." - Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Donate Blood (An FAQ).

When people find out that I am a regular blood donor, they often have lots of questions. I see of these same questions online, so in an effort to clarify the blood donation process, here are my answers to some questions I am frequently asked:

* How much money do you get to donate blood? None. You won't get monetary payment but they always offer cookies and juice, though. And maybe a T-shirt or raffle ticket. Small tokens of appreciation.

* How long does it take to donate blood? It usually take me a little less than an hour. Not too long to save up to three lives.

* Does donating blood hurt? There's a sting at first when the needle is inserted, but it's not bad and it doesn't last. I notice it less and less nowadays.

* How can I find a blood drive? Visit or call 1-800-GIVE LIFE. You can also visit or call 1-888-USBLOOD.

* Do you feel weak after donating blood? I don't. But I make sure to follow the donation center's instructions - no heavy lifting, double water intake, etc.

* Do you do anything special before you donate blood I make sure I've eaten well before I go and drink more water the day before. Nothing big.

* How often do you donate blood? Roughly every two months. Most folks can donate every 56 days.

Got more questions? Check out the Red Cross FAQs on blood, blood needs, and blood donation.

"Next to knowing when to seize an opportunity, the most important thing in life is to know when to forego an advantage." - Benjamin Disraeli

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Build a website.

Everyday, more and more people get online. Not just to use email or read an online newspaper, but often to establish an online presence. For example Kwadjo and I both have websites as do many of our relatives and friends. Building a site doesn't have to be hard, but services like Squidoo make it much easier. As they say, "Everyone’s an expert on something!" And here's the kicker, a portion of the money your website makes will be donated to charity.
Squidoo makes money from ads and affiliate links. We give 5% of what we earn, right off the top, to charity. We keep 45% to cover our overhead and stuff. That leaves 50%. That goes to charity or to the people who build the pages. And we leave it up to you to choose one or the other.
You can donate your revenue to any of over 70 nonprofits. If you run a nonprofit consider registering your organization so Squidoo webmaster can donate money to your organization. You may even want to build a page for your organization. What a great way to develop an online presence and make money for your favorite cause! What will you write about? There are sites for selling items, political activism, social activism, and much much more. No wonder over 40,000 people are building sites at Squidoo. See you online!

"Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Double your microloans.

You may already know that you can make a microloan through Kiva. The nice thing about Kiva is that when the loan is repaid you get your money back. Donations to other mircroloan agencies (focusing on the US and other countries) may be be tax-deductible.

Now, Kiva and Advanta have joined forces to create Kiva B4B. When you become a Kiva B4B cardmember, every dollar you donate using your card will be matched by Advanta up to $200 per month. That means your efforts will have twice the impact. You'll also get 5% statement credit for donations to Kiva and other nonprofits, and purchases.

So visit to learn more. (It's a great webpage!) Read the fine print and see if this credit card is right for you. If you is, you'll double your microloans, double the difference.

Kiva - loans that change lives

"We should try to be the parents of our future rather than the offspring of our past." -Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher (1864-1936)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Learn Hands-Only CPR.

I've written before about learning CPR. You can take a class at the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, or learn at home with with a kit you can use on your own schedule. But what if you haven't taken those classes? Or if it's been a while and you're not confident in your CPR Skills. For those of use who are a bit nervous about using conventional CPR, the American Heart Association now gives another simpler way to save someone's life: hands-only CPR.

Hands-only CPR calls for just two steps:

1. Call 911. Call yourself or better yet, send someone else to call.
2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest. Center your palm between the breast line. Place your other hand on top with your shoulder directly above so you push straight down. The goal is about 100 beats per minute. Sing the song "Stayin' Alive" to keep time.

A few notes:

* Don't be afraid. A person who has collapsed from a heart attack is dying, so your actions can only help.
* Don't use this technique with infants, children, victims of drowning, those who collapse due to breathing problems. These people have less oxygen in their blood and so need conventional CPR with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Check out the hands-only CPR FAQ if you have questions and check out the hands-only CPR video demo. It may be all you need to save the someone's life, perhaps the life of someone you know and love.

Less than one third of people who have a heart attack at home, work or in a public space get the immediate CPR they need. Hands-only CPR can change that. Call 911. Press hard and fast on the center of the chest. Got it? Good.

"An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t. It's knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and it's knowing how to use the information you get." - William Feather

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Join the Carnival for Change - Booth 3

Welcome to the Carnival for Change where we explore the web for interesting items relating to social justice, health, education, and opportunity.

* The Social Edge Opportunities Page lists numerous conferences, fellowships, award programs, contests, competitions, announcements and other opportunities for those interested in social change and social businesses. If you are a social entrepreneur or want to be, this page is a must click.

* Ideablob is a site where "entrepreneurs and small business owners can share and grow their business ideas – and have a chance to win $10,000 towards fulfilling them." More opportunities for social entrepreneurs. Thanks to No Sweat for the tip.

* The Christian Science Monitor has a great story about city-based scholarship funds and how one is revitalizing the town of El Dorado, Arkansas. Thanks for the tip, Kwadjo!

* Social Change Websites lists over 900 websites dedicated to making a difference. Happy surfing!

* Britt Bravo over at Have Fun * Do Good has a nice post about Bill Somerville's book Grassroots Philanthropy.

Thanks for visiting the Carnival for Change! If you'd like space at the next booth, send your items to me with "Carnival for Change" in the subject. See you next time!

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -Desmond Tutu, clergyman (b. 1931)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Play a game, give a net.

I've written before about the life-saving value of anti-malaria mosquito nets, and I did a recent post on video games for change. Now the the Nothing But Nets Campaign has brought the two together.

Everyone who plays the online game Deliver the Net will have a net sent in their honor, just for playing. Of course you can send additional nets for just $10 each, but it's great to be able to send one for free. So head over to and play Deliver the Net. A few minutes of fun could save a child's life. Sometimes it's great to be a buzzkill.

"Embrace change and avoid the pitfalls of yesterday. Stand on your foundation and do not let anyone or anything sway you from the ability to make your dreams become a reality”." - Kwasi Boaitey