No IT angle today...
I have a mixed approach to giving to charity. I have a number of regular direct debits for various causes, and I also give sporadically in lump sums when inspiration strikes me.
My latest of these is Kiva (here's a Kiva invite) - which is a site that does micro-loans to people in developing countries.
Kiva has been on my radar for a while now, but I'd been putting it off because I had a few misconceptions about the whole process and I finally got down and actually did some reading on what it's all about.
I was mainly concerned by the fact that in most cases, the loans have already been given out, and you are paying for something that is already a fait accompli - which I thought was weird, and that it meant that you weren't really lending the money to the people you had chosen.
Turns out to make a bit more sense. These people need loans immediately, so the partner in that country does so, and then posts the loan up to Kiva. When you choose to "fund" that loan, your money then underwrites it. You are taking on the risk for the loan.
Now I've had it explained, it makes sense to me, so I've been having fun donating... it's a bit more addictive than I expected. I've already made five loans in as many countries, three of which have now been fully funded - one of which I was the final person that funded it (and that feels pretty good). We'll see how they go.