I first saw this one on Facebook. A friend had posted information that this website was selling t-shirts, and $7 from each shirt would go to Heifer International. Well naturally I jumped at the chance to help Heifer and get a really great shirt. Since my first purchase well over a year ago they have branched out by extending their clothing line, offering more products and even hiring artists to create some really nice pieces all in the name of helping others. Each week, the cause and the design changes. This week, for example, all of the money raised goes to 4 Paws 4 Ability, a program to match service dogs to kids with seizures.
I love these guys for lots of reasons, but mainly because the concept is so simple. Instead of trying to solve everything, they are working on just a couple things, shoes and glasses. For each pair of shoes or each pair of sunglasses purchased, Toms will donate a pair or shoes or glasses to someone in need somewhere in the world. The shoes are really awesome too, so comfortable. They even work in the US, providing shoes to kids in over 35 states and glasses to kids in California, New Mexico and New York.
This one is completely different. They don't raise money for donations, and you can't really buy anything. What you can do with Kiva, however, is make an investment. With as little as $25, you can help fund a man, woman or group with an idea to improve their lives and the lives of their families. And you can choose who you want to invest in. Here's the greatest part, when you invest, you get your money back and can then invest in other people and their dreams. I started with 3 loans of $25 each a couple of years ago, and I have had 6 people pay their loans back in full and I have 2 new loans pending. You can invest in higher education, starting a business or even help someone buy a pig. The possibilities are endless. It's a fantastic way to teach kids about micro-loans and entrepreneurialism as well.
**The video for Kiva is in a separate post. It's amazing, so go watch it after you read this!
This one is all about building awareness. The more people who know about the atrocities in the world, the more likely they will be stopped. Falling Whistles started because a traveler ended up in a military camp in the Congo and found out that young boys too small to hold guns were being sent to the front lines of battle with just a whistle to warn the others. This prompted a massive awareness campaign of wearing a simple whistle around your neck to spark conversation and get the word out about what is happening to kids. I wear mine often, and it never fails to draw questions from people. But they don't just sell whistles. The money earned goes to advocacy efforts, helping to build influence at a governmental level like holding safe and fair elections. They invest in entrepreneurs to help build a more stable existence for families. They are doing really great work on the ground level. A true example of grassroots activism.
This video is from 2010, but it gives you a look into the history of Congo and the beginnings of Falling Whistles.
So check these websites out, buy a t-shirt, a whistle and a pair of shoes and loan someone some money, or don't. But at least you know about some more innovative people doing amazing things.