Sunday, December 07, 2008

Kiva Update and a Not-So-Modest Proposal

Just a quick update on my previous post asking people to consider donating to Kiva.

Team Shift Happens currently has 20 members and has made $425 in loans (my thanks to all of you). Now it’s kind of hard to really measure this since the "pay it forward" approach means there have probably been a few gift certificates given that haven’t been loaned out yet and, when they make those loans, they may not attribute it to the team (which is perfectly fine, of course). And hopefully when people receive those certificates they are then paying it forward again, which will take some time to make an impact. My hope is that this will continue far into the future and, perhaps a couple of years from now, it comes back to me from someone that doesn’t even know it started here. Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Now for my Not-So-Modest Proposal. As I mentioned in my previous post, this is the time of year where lots of folks in my neck of the woods celebrate a Holiday. As part of that there are often parties: teachers from departments or entire schools, office parties, neighborhood parties, friend and family parties. At these parties there are usually copious amounts of food and drink and often “white elephant” type gift exchanges. Too often there is twice as much food and drink as is needed, and the extra either gets thrown away or added to the waistlines of the host family. And the white elephant gifts, by design, are typically not useful and get shoved in a closet somewhere, perhaps to be taken out in a few years and passed along to someone else.

Now, I’m not trying to be a killjoy here. I still think there should be parties, and those parties should certainly have food and drink and lots of laughter and fun. But my proposal is that perhaps instead of providing a copious amount of food and drink, we provide a reasonable amount. And instead of white elephant gifts, we give the gift of opportunity. I’d urge you to take the money saved on the no longer overly large amount of food and drink, and on the no longer purchased white elephant gifts and, instead, give that to Kiva to lend to others where it can make a huge difference.

At the point of the party where you typically gather around to open and laugh at the white elephant gifts, instead you could gather around the computer and view the picture and the description of the entrepreneur(s) you helped fund. Or, if you want to go all out, you could actually pick the entrepreneur(s) that you were going to fund during the party. (As an added bonus, look up their location on Google Earth and see what other information you can find about their area online.) Imagine the good that would do, and the message that would send to your students, your children, your friends, and your neighbors – and the world. You see, I think you can have a great party, have lots of laughter and fun, and still take a moment to make the world a better place.

So, please have a Holiday party, and please have lots of fun. Just please also consider making just a few small changes that will make a huge difference for someone else. Consider making it a Kiva Party. Wouldn’t that be in the true spirit of the season?


  1. That's a beautiful idea, Karl. Before I pay it forward, let me pay one backwards by saying you zapped my imagination almost exactly two years ago with some electric koolaid that still gives quite a buzz.

    Happy holidays.

  2. You reminded me of this video (just in case you didn't see it already):