This is what it means to be totally committed to your mission…

Yesterday, Garrett Cooper and I had the pleasure of hearing a talk by Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva.org (and Pittsburgher by birth and upbringing).

Kiva is a fascinating organization and just about my favorite example of social networking. Kiva is a microlender. That is, they facilitate small loans to people in developing countries (soon in the U.S.) to help them build businesses and become kivaself-sufficient. Unlike the typical microlender, however, Kiva is not the source of the capital for these loans – you and I are!

On Kiva’s website, www.kiva.org, stories and photographs of individual borrowers and prospective borrowers are posted. You or I then go to Kiva and select the person or group that we want to support. We lend as little as $25, Kiva aggregates our money with other lenders, and – Voila! – a new business is launched. And when the money gets paid back, as it usually does, we can pick our next recipient. $25 at a time, and in just 4 years, Kiva has passed over $62 million of loans to the working poor the world over.

Here’s Kiva’s mission: to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

 

Read that again. That is a great mission statement. Clear, succinct, specific. No vagaries here. What do they do? Connect people. How do they do it? Through lending. Why? For the sake of alleviating poverty.

 

Some time ago, a company came to Kiva and offered them $10 million of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) money. Kiva asked them what they intended. Were they going to distribute the money to their employees so that all of them could log onto Kiva’s website and join as lenders? No, the company just wanted to give Kiva a check for Kiva to lend out. So Kiva referred back to its mission statement. $10 million could alleviate a lot of poverty. $10 million could provide for a lot of lending. But a $10 million check from a corporation wouldn’t connect people.

 

So Kiva said, “No, thank you.”

 

Let me repeat that. Kiva, a nonprofit less than 5 years old, turned down a $10 million contribution because it didn’t fit precisely with their mission.

 

Would you have that much courage in your organization?

 

This is what being truly committed to mission really means.

 

I’m planning to join Kiva’s network of lenders. Wouldn’t you like to? www.kiva.org

Have a question or something to add to this post?  Leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win a 1GB USB drive.  One winner per week through the end of May.

 

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