Several micro-credit agencies -- most of whose people are out meeting with the poor, getting them loans, and helping them succeed in their businesses -- have already been nominated on this board. I have clicked the "Recommend it" button for several of them and have posted favorable replies which may encourage people to make direct individual contributions to some of those agencies. But I believe that as Foolanthropists we should again make the Grameen Foundation USA one of our chosen Foolanthropies and send our contributions to it. You may well ask, "John, why have you been encouraging us to contribute to a variety micro-credit agencies when you are going to state a case for choosing only one?"Because I know that the choices we make as individuals are not always the same choices we make as Foolanthropists. Many people are more likely to contribute when they feel a connection to the communities where they live or where they grew up and their families and friends still live. An American working for Apple in Chicago might go to the Grameen Foundation USA web page http://www.grameenfoundation.org/replications/domestic4000.html - LIST and look for agencies in Illinois. After looking further into those agencies he might contribute to one of them. An expatriate from Kyrghyzstan working for Intel in Singapore might go to the Foundation's page http://www.grameenfoundation.org/replications/international.html where she might find a micro-lender to contribute to in Kyrghyzstan. An expatriate form Bangladesh working for Advanced Micro Devices in Germany may already be contributing to the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. All of their contributions will help people lift themselves out of poverty. So I applaud all of those contributions even though I have no relatives in Kyrghyzstan or Bangladesh nor have I ever lived in Illinois. But, you ask, "if those contributions are so good why then urge us to make just that one micro-credit agency, the Grameen Foundation USA, a choice of Foolanthropy?"*Because by supporting the Grameen Foundation USA (GF-USA) as individuals we do more for micro-credit overall than by giving the same amount of money to any other micro-credit agency. (Let me put this another way. It's better to give something to a micro-credit agency where you feel a local connection than to give nothing at all. And it's better to give, say, $100 to a local agency rather than $25 to GF-USA and nothing to a local agency. But if we consider only the amount of good we are most likely to do for each dollar we contribute, it's best to give all the money we are going to give to micro-credit to GF-USA.)**Also, by supporting GF-USA as Foolanthropists, we are doing the most Foolish Foolanthropy. Most micro-credit agencies are designed to concentrate directly on helping the poor people in the communities they serve. GF-USA is set up to increase and improve micro-credit anywhere there are poor people. Anywhere in the United States. Anywhere in the world. Its mission includes educating multitudes of people in the value of micro-credit and getting them to support it. This makes GF-USA more Foolanthropic in two ways.First, it makes them more involved in education, because a central part of their mission is to train people to run micro-credit agencies and to help them educate their staffs and -- where necessary -- to educate their borrowers in how to succeed. Second, it makes them more involved in spreading the word. As David Gardner says, "The most Foolish charities" are "broad ranging" and "they have a strong capacity to involve the public at large in their mission." And David Gardner says, "the Foolish charity can lay legitimate claim toward being epic in its grandeur, in the grandeur of its idea and of its mission." In its international scope, GF-USA most definitely is and does just that. GF-USA also fits Foolanthropy well with the standard Motley Fool financial method of Long Term Buy and Hold. Last year during the drive Foolanthropy raised $762,750 in total. GF-USA received $185,000 -- the second highest amount. But after the drive closed, a Foolanthropist offered to donate $500,000 for micro-credit in India if GF-USA could raise matching funds. They raised $700,000 in matching funds, so $1.2 million went to micro-credit in India. Recently another Foolanthropist has offered to match $500,000 for micro-credit in Mexico. It is less likely that this would have happened for any local micro-credit agency. ***By featuring GF-USA, Foolanthropy has already given support for a longer term than the drive itself. I believe we will do our best by extending that long-term support. Then there is this practical reason. Any unrestricted money GF-USA raises (from any source, Foolish or otherwise) beyond what it uses for training and involving the world at large, it sends to those micro-credit agencies which can make the most rapid improvements or where a crisis needs to be averted. -- To the agency just starting up. -- To the agency that has just proven itself in the field but has yet to document that proof and convince potential financial supporters. -- To agencies in countries that have just been hit with a flood, an earthquake, a hurricane, or a war and need credit immediately to restart businesses and rebuild lives. This post is too long already. So I will conclude it by saying, as I intend to make more clear soon: "by every rule of Foolanthropy, by many tuggings on the heart, by every reason of practicality, GF-USA is my choice for Foolanthropy 2000. I hope it will be yours as well."John *Please understand I am not saying my wife and I are making only one contribution this year. Far from it. It's just that GF-USA will be our most Foolanthropic contribution. **This is particularly true for people paying income taxes to the United States Government. Contributions to most of the micro-credit agencies based outside the U.S. are not tax deductible under the U.S. Code. Contributions to GF-USA are as deductible as 501(c)3 allows. They are deductible no matter where in the world GF-USA does thetraining or sends your money. ***These figures come from Alex Counts report on the results for GF-USA of Foolanthropy 1999 as posted by TMFSelenahttp://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=13338231 see also (if the link gets repaired)http://www.fool.com/Haiku404.asp?404;http://www.fool.com/foolcharityfund/1999/990131.htm
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