i want to get more out of giving
February 28, 2008 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for an alternative way to give....

I already make donations to certain international relief services but now I am looking for a way I could connect my family to a family in another country directly- as in I could send money or goods and, in exchange, if they wanted to, they could send crafts or artwork, or something we could negotiate. This way there wouldn't be the sort of power imbalance that comes with just giving money (although I'm perfectly willing to do that...) I guess what I'm saying is- I'd like to have an ongoing, long-term relationship, a connection, with the people I give to.

Has anyone done this? How is this done?
posted by mistsandrain to Human Relations (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Kiva.org? You don't get goods back but you do get to choose the people to whom you donate and it's not a simple gift, it's a loan that helps them build a business.
posted by sharkfu at 9:58 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Take a trip to X country. Find someone who makes goods...rather than having that family work for a company that works for a company that works for Wal-Mart...you can send them money...and they can do whatever you want them to do with their crafts or whatever. I've seen this done before, and I've seen varying degrees of success. The best advice I can give: Make sure this is more beneficial for THEM than it is for you.

Good luck, and awesome plan.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:20 AM on February 28, 2008

If you want to get something in return for money and goods sent, you're not looking to give, you're looking to buy. And please don't underestimate the cost of shipping art/ crafts from the third world. What costs you $25 to ship from the States can cost $85 - $100 in the opposite direction.

Aid to Artisans is an organisation that trains artisans in basic production techniques, quality control, marketing, etc. They're very nice people, and have a store via their webesite where you can purchase goods made by the artisans they train. Kiva is a micolending institution that allows you to lend money to entrepreneurs. Since they're paying you back, it might make you feel better about the "power imbalance" you speak of.

And of course, at the end of the day, do those that benefit from your effectively anonymous giving really care about any perceived power imbalances on your part? Somehow, I doubt it.

If you really want to feel better about giving, you can give time in your local community or anywhere in the world.
posted by asnowballschance at 10:27 AM on February 28, 2008

Response by poster: I specifically asked about donating money and/ or goods because I do not have the time to give. And I specifically asked about non-anonymous giving/ trading b/c I would like to benefit from building an ongoing relationship with a family. And I do think, for some, that the superior/ subordinate dynamic, real or perceived, is a hindrance to building equitable relationships. I do not, in this specific instance, wish to put someone in that position by just being on the receiving end.
posted by mistsandrain at 11:09 AM on February 28, 2008

I'd second Kiva.org. You're giving a loan to an individual/family that needs it. You won't likely get anything in return, but you'll get your money back and be able to loan it out again to someone else. I'd imagine you could develop relationships this way over time, though I'm not sure how much interaction you'd have with the recipient of your loan.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:40 AM on February 28, 2008

Here's another vote for Kiva.org. However, you don't build a relationship with the people. Sometimes you get updates from the field office about their progress. For example, I recently learned that one of my borrowers, a business owner in Nairobi, is worried because his customers are fleeing to the countryside. I feel a connection to him even though we have no direct contact, but this might not be what you're looking for.

Years ago, I participated in a very small child sponsorship organization, all volunteer run, that had a good amount of contact between sponsor and child. You paid for the child's or teenager's education. This wasn't a family connection (the kids were often AIDS orphans) but you had a connection and regular communication. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track the organization down. There are probably similar organizations out there who are volunteer run or at least don't make big profits.

People reading this thread who have time to give might be interested in United Nations online volunteering. You work online with an NGO, helping them write grant proposals, set up a web site, etc.
posted by PatoPata at 3:35 PM on February 28, 2008

Hmm, ah, so what you're saying is you can't go there in person to meet people first? It seems like it would be so much better if you could form the human bond in person. Otherwise, things like you speaking a different language than they do might be a hindrance. And I'm not sure you'll find an official organization that will broker a human-to-human connection for you, because for them to form a network for connecting people to people, they're likely to also need a portion of your donation to anonymously go to their overhead, which suddenly becomes not-what-you-want.

Oh, here's an idea: contact your local Peace Corps office. See if they'll hook you up with any returning volunteers, or just put a sign up on their office bulletin board. Returning volunteers are often really interested in maintaining connections with the people they just left. They'd know who in that town does X or Y crafts, they speak the language, and they may already be sending packages or making trips. Another idea: talk to churches or other community groups (Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders) that already go to other countries and see if any of the people who travel or plan their trips could help make that personal connection for you. Another idea is to talk to immigration lawyers or local nonprofits that work with farmworkers or housecleaners or any other group that may include some undocumented migrants. I'm sure they'd love to get some help sending money back to help the people in their hometown. These probably all sound kind of random, but I think it might ultimately make it more meaningful. Anyway, good luck!
posted by salvia at 6:05 PM on February 28, 2008

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