This article as it originally appeared on LinkedIn.
I suggest some possibilities if your team wants to get involved in some philanthropic effort to support causes, hard-working entrepreneurs and charities that guarantee good economic return for the dollar. There are now several concepts for group philanthropy on the web. The least relevant here is crowdfunding and I say that because crowdfunding projects appeal to small desire-niches, usually around gadgets and art products. So I suggest that if you want to get your team involved in seriously rewarding philanthropy at the company to entertain these other ideas instead.
If you want to support entrepreneurial businesses and still keep your capital donations intact, consider Kiva.org. Your funds are used as short-term loans to budding entrepreneurs, in America and Canada not just far away places. The amount you contribute to their ‘expense’ is paid back in full. These entrepreneurs most likely use your ‘short term loan’ to buy supplies that they then use in their manufacturing, farming and retail business. Your loan is repaid out of their revenue and they earn their income from the profit. Kiva.org oversees the qualifications of candidates seeking loans and keeps track of repayments. Sometimes it takes contributions from several parties to realize a ‘loan request’ so your money is not alone in supporting an entrepreneur. When your money has been paid back it sits in your Kiva account and can be taken back any time – just not while loaned out.
The other suggestion is ordinary charitable giving with a new twist. Global Giving Org is a platform where you will find trusted organizations like the Red Cross. What makes it powerful is the ability to search by causes, events and also by region. So that your charitable giving goes to something you personally support. And so you can look for causes closer to home if that is your desire. You can support causes with personal resonance rather than something that is in the headlines.