Years ago I set up an account with e-Rewards, an online survey company. Every few days I get an email from them telling me a survey opportunity is available. After I complete the survey, I get "paid" in e-money that I can redeem for rewards. When I started doing their surveys one reward option was certificates from a Big Box Bookstore. That ended, though, and now the vast majority of rewards are airline or hotel points, along with vouchers for online retailers and subscriptions to magazines I'm not interested in.
If I'm busy I don't bother opening the survey emails, and in half of those I participate in my survey answers don't meet the criteria to qualify. Despite that, though, I'd built up a nice account balance. When I got an email from the company telling me the'd set up a partnership with a microloan organization and I could redeem my money towards a loan I was very interested.
Kiva Microfunds (AKA Kiva.org) allows people to lend money via the Internet to people in developing countries. It was founded in 2005, and is the first and largest microlender on the Internet.. The charity evaluator Charity Navigator has given Kiva its highest 4-star rating.
The normal Kiva process (if I was using my own money), is to pick a specific borrower and read the details of their story before I made a loan. But because I was letting e-Rewards front the money, the only choice I had was the section of the world the money would go to (but they wouldn't guarantee it would go there; if there weren't loans in that area, they reserved the right to send it to another region).
There were several levels of Kiva giving available. For a $40 investment of "currency" I was able to subsidize a $100 loan. Ten minutes after I clicked to redeem, I received an email thanking me for my donation. It said, in part, "With help from Members like you, e-Rewards is empowering people and creating opportunity around the world."
Since I've made my donation I've gotten a couple more survey emails. I've taken them more seriously; I can't wait to make another donation!
Five years ago today: New Thing #92--Organize Me!