(BPT) - In the past, giving money to a charity was considered one of the best ways to do a good deed. But thanks to modern technology, the face of philanthropy is changing as people around the world become more connected.
Lending a helping hand to people has always been an inherently good thing. But new perspectives have emerged about how philanthropy really affects those it's meant to help. As a result of these new perspectives, the ways in which people on both ends of the equation relate to and understand each other have evolved. Philanthropy 2.0 is about making real connections, furthering understanding and building a better future with people whose faces are visible, names are knowable, and achievements can be shared.
So what does philanthropy 2.0 look like in practical terms? A few examples shed light on how doing good has changed, and where it's headed.
* Lending: Lending may not have fit into the philanthropy category in the past, but in the age of philanthropy 2.0, lending lets people go beyond traditional giving. The concept has grown dramatically through organizations like Kiva, which enables anyone with an Internet connection and $25 to make a micro-loan to one of thousands of low-income entrepreneurs in over 60 countries, including the U.S. Lenders can simply go to www.kiva.org to find a borrower to lend $25 to - it might be a student in Kenya, a seamstress in India or a farmer in Guatemala. Philanthropy 2.0 means you get to connect, through your micro-loan, to an individual borrower's efforts to build a better future for themselves, their family and their community. When a borrower repays a loan - and it's worth noting that Kiva's repayment rate is 99 percent - you can choose a new recipient, so the cycle of support continues. You can also give a Kiva Card as a gift, providing your family and friends with a unique opportunity to connect with causes and places they care about as they choose borrowers they'd like to support. And like a regular Kiva loan, the funds can be used again and again.
* Giving: Dropping a few coins in a collection box is a longstanding method of gathering funds for charity, but as organizations try to attract new audiences and donors, they've developed new approaches. It's now essential for charities to have an active, multi-faceted Web and social media presence. The level of connection that's so much a part of philanthropy 2.0 is much easier to achieve with interactivity on multiple platforms, from Twitter and Facebook to Tumblr and Instagram. When it comes to mobile, widely acknowledged as the next frontier in marketing, the philanthropic movement is ahead of the crowd. In the wake of natural disasters in recent years, there have been countless calls for people to text their donations to organizations serving affected communities.
* Volunteering: Sometimes, lending a hand is just as important as lending a dollar - but many charities have specialized tasks that aren't right for every volunteer. Today, there is new awareness about ways to make volunteering more effective. Matching people with the right skills to the right job is an important element in increasing efficiency. The website VolunteerMatch has emerged as a leading way for volunteer to find positions that match their expertise and skills - and for charities to recruit volunteers.
The world is still a big place, but technology is making it feel much smaller. It's no longer a novelty to be able to interact with someone across the globe instantaneously. That new level of connectedness that we all share has helped to reshape the face of doing good. To find out just how easy it is to make a difference in philanthropy 2.0, visit www.kiva.org to make a loan or give a Kiva Card.