harp-weaver is an independent philanthropic advisory firm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Teresa Araco Rodgers, the principal, works with individuals and families to gift to issues that matter in a meaningful way.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First Loan to a Kiva Borrower

I just made my first loan through Kiva (www.kiva.org). I lent money to a woman farmer named Maricel. Marciel lives in the Philippines and is married with 2 children. Her oldest child is only 5 years old. She is a farmer working in Sta. Josefa, Agusan del sur. She has been growing rice for 5 years. She earns 5,000 PHP per month doing this farming. She requested a loan of $250 to purchase seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs. In the future, she hopes to improve her business and be able to sustain her family. 8 people lent Marciel the money she needs and my loan put her at $250.

Marciel came to Kiva through Field Partner, Community Economic Ventures, Inc. (CEVI), based in Bohol. In addition to providing credit for its clients, CEVI provides savings, insurance, and training through regular cluster group meetings.

The processes to register, to view profiles of borrowers and to actually make a loan were seamless. Kiva asks for lenders to "tip" them with each loan in order to help pay for the costs of providing infrastructure. This tip is optional. They do not take a piece of the loan as it goes directly to the borrower.

This service is a great way to get started in microfinance. Kiva makes it easy to select the sector focus of your loan - their featured loans are group loans, housing loans and agriculture loans. There are currently over 1300 loans available. Kiva provides a profile of the borrower, information on the Field Partner and the use and terms of the loan. All Field Partners are rated for their ability to cultivate and support borrowers.

This initiative is about giving a hand up to entrepreneurs working towards better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bolder Giving: Great Teleconference with Diane Feeney

I participated in a teleconference call today sponsored by Bolder Giving and featuring Diane Feeney. Diane's father is Chuck Feeney, the co-founder of Duty Free Shoppers. Mr. Feeney donated his entire business interests to Atlantic Philanthropies and ensured that the foundation would pay-out in his lifetime. Diane and her family set up the French American Charitable Trust (FACT), to fund social justice causes in the U.S. and France. The foundation's focus is funding community organizations and grassroots groups, directly helping people and organizations who suffer from social inequality.

Influenced by her father, Diane guided her family's foundation to pay-out assets in her lifetime. After having donated $54 million to social justices causes, FACT will soon close its doors.

The call was hosted by Anne Ellinger, co-founder of Bolder Giving. The mission of Bolder Giving is to inspire and support people to give at their full potential. Diane described the conversation she and her family had to decide to pay-out the assets of the foundation. She talked about how surprised she was at the 5% minimum pay-out requirement of U.S. foundations AND the fact that the 5% has in some instances turned into a cap. Diane fully believes in the "giving while living" philosophy. Her family made the decision for two reasons: First, they wanted to apply as much money to their programs of interest and second it was a great way for the family to come together and they did not want to open it to the next generation.

The foundation is currently in the process of closing. Anne asked Diane about whether the family will stay connected despite not having the foundation. Diane responded by saying that the process has been positive and actually brought her family together. She is going on to start a giving program with her sister once the foundation is fully closed. Diane is personally interested in women's economic development and it will be the focus her future work.

One of the attendees asked Diane about her own identity once the foundation is closed. The fact that she has found her next step and still has her own personal giving has helped her, but she believes it is important to not solely identify with the donor part of one's self.

Another attendee asked about the impact of closing the foundation on their grantees. They funded about 30 organizations each year over 10-15 years. They informed the grantees 4 years ago about their plans to pay-out the assets of the foundation. They shifted their grant focus a bit and ensured that the grantees had fundraising plans in place. They made two-year grants to help grantees diversify and strengthen their fundraising capacity and capabilities.

I turned the conversation towards impact investing. Diane's foundation did not make many investments, but she does see value in aligning investing with the mission and supporting overall grantmaking.

It is always interesting to hear a person's story and experiences. It was an inspiring conversation taking a different look at the level of gifting, the timing of pay-out and the fundamental philosophies which guide gifting.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Night Out With Meaning, May 4, 2011

Thank you to those who attended Night Out With Meaning on May 4, 2011. A special thank you to Marjorie Margolies for sharing her story! I received many emails of gratitude for the opportunity to hear Marjorie's story and be surrounded by thoughtful women.

Marjorie weaved her experiences as Congresswoman, broadcast journalist, adoptive mother, Director and Deputy Chair of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference On Women and her recent role as founder and president of Women's Campaign International - a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing participation of women in political, market and civic process in 20 countries.

I received a request to create a Facebook Group to better connect with other women in the room and to continue the conversation. Here is the link to join: Night Out With Meaning.

I look forward to inviting people to the next Night Out in November 2011!