Top 15 Charities for Investors for 2007

This is the time of year when many people reflect on their lives, give thanks for their good fortune and choose to share with those less fortunate than …

This is the time of year when many people reflect on their lives, give thanks for their good fortune and choose to share with those less fortunate than themselves. Many investors in particular feel that they should give back by sharing their successes with others.

But that doesn’t mean that they put the investor mindset on hold. For investors, it is important that every dollar goes as far as it possibly can. Thus, NuWire has compiled a list of the Top 15 Charities for Investors for 2007. These 15 charities cover a range of causes. More importantly, each dollar that goes into the charity is used effectively, making each of these charities ones that investors can feel confident about supporting. Investors who donate to these charities can be certain that each dollar will make a real difference.
Kiva

Kiva works with existing microfinance companies to access entrepreneurs worldwide. Kiva, founded in 2004, concentrates on having a “transparent” lending program, so donors can see exactly where their money goes. This makes it the ideal charity for an investor; not only can they support an entrepreneur and help boost a community, but they get to see how their donation works.

Kiva lets donors find and loan money to small businesses in the developing world. “By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can ‘sponsor a business’ and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back,” according to Kiva’s website.

Because loans are repaid, donors not only help the entrepreneur they originally lend to, they can also use the repaid principal to lend to another entrepreneur in need of assistance.

2. Pura Vida Coffee

Pura Vida Coffee, founded in 1998, stands apart from many of the other coffee companies based in Seattle. Purchases of gourmet coffees from Pura Vida help those living in countries where coffee is grown. This assistance is seen through living wages for farmers and producers of coffee; educating consumers about social good; inspiring other business leaders to follow their model of using capitalism to promote social good; and serving and empowering at-risk children and families living in coffee-growing companies.

“Because Pura Vida specializes in Fair Trade and organic coffee, you help a farmer sustain his family and protect the environment with every cup you drink,” according to their website. “And because Pura Vida Coffee is operated for charitable benefit, you help children and families in coffee-growing countries build more hopeful futures.

In addition to gourmet coffee sales, Pura Vida organizes sustainable development tours to Guatemala.

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3. Root Capital (formerly EcoLogic Finance)

Root Capital, founded in 1999, “is a nonprofit offering affordable financial services to community-based businesses operating in environmentally sensitive areas of Latin America, Africa and South Asia,” according to their website. “Targeting the rural credit market, Root Capital provides loan capital to support low-income communities whose business activities foster environmental conservation and grassroots economic development.”

The median amount of a loan is $200,000, and loans range from $25,000 to $750,000. Loans are generally granted to businesses in shade-grown and sustainable agriculture, sustainable fisheries, wild-harvested products, certified wood and ecotourism. Root capital has partnered with importers to ensure a market for the products produced by Root Capital’s borrowers.

In addition to direct donations to Root Capital, donors can shop through the website ShiftYourGift and select Root Capital as the recipient of a gift of 5 percent of the cost of the purchase price.

4. Calvert Foundation

237,000 jobs, 10,500 homes and 13,900 businesses have been created through Calvert Foundation, “a separate for-profit investment firm and sponsor of Calvert mutual funds [and] a long-time leader in the field of socially-responsible investing,” according to their website.

Founded in 1995, they offer donors the opportunity to “create jobs, build homes and change lives through [their] portfolio,” according to their website. They also offer a tool for donors to calculate their impact.

They raise investment capital through institutions and individual donors. The money is used to grant loans to nonprofit organizations in communities in need and to finance such things as affordable housing, small businesses and community services.

Efficacy and efficiency are two standout characteristics of Calvert Foundation. “We can leverage dollars 20 times the original value of the gift we receive,” according to their website. “Each dollar raised unlocks $20 in new loan activity, allowing us to meet the ever-increasing demand from nonprofit organizations for affordable investment capital.”

5. Endeavor

Endeavor, founded in 1997, serves entrepreneurs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey and Uruguay. They seek to expand into countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East in the next 10 years.

“Endeavor targets only entrepreneurs with high-impact potential. We scour a country for these entrepreneurs, help them break down a society’s barriers to success, offer world-class strategic advice, and open doors to capital,” according to their website. “With Endeavor’s guidance, they become role models, encourage others to innovate and take risks, and create sustainable economic growth. Together, Endeavor and high-impact entrepreneurs are changing industries, communities and entire countries.”

More than 14,000 people have applied to Endeavor’s Search & Selection process, and 198 Endeavor Entrepreneurs have been selected and certified from that pool of applicants. The businesses operated by Endeavor Entrepreneurs generated $1.357 billion in 2005 alone, and employees of the businesses receive an average of 10 times the national minimum wage in their respective countries, according to Endeavor’s website.

6. Unitus

“Unitus fights global poverty by using a venture capital model to increase access to microfinance,” according to their website. After months of research beginning in 2000, the founders of Unitus developed the Unitus Acceleration Model in order to affect widespread change and growth through microfinance.

“The Unitus Acceleration Model combines best practices from the venture capital, investment banking and strategy consulting industries to help create large-scale, poverty-focused and commercially sustainable microfinance institutions,” according to their website.

Unitus partners with select microfinance institutions to provide them with investment structures that lead to solid, sustainable foundations of capital. Unitus also consults the microfinance institutions throughout their growth process and finally ends the formal partnership once the microfinance institution has reached a level of success at which it has the ability and financing to continue to grow.

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