News and analysis
January 07, 2010

Site Raises Money for Savings Programs

A new organization in Seattle is adopting the approach used by Kiva to help low-income workers who are saving to go to school, buy a home, or start a small business.

The SaveTogether Web site—which allows donors to make contributions as small as $1—features profiles of people who are participating in charity-operated savings programs in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, Wash., and Washington that match the money low-income participants save themselves. Since the site started in October, donors have contributed more than $5,500. In time, the organization plans to develop partnerships with charities that run savings programs in other cities.

Kiva, a fast-growing charity that allows donors to make loans to entrepreneurs overseas, caused controversy this fall because critics said it did not make it clear that the money donors give does not go directly to the entrepreneurs featured on the site but to the charities that work with them. Mindful of the controversy, SaveTogether includes a disclaimer on the donation page that contributions go into a pool that matches savers’ deposits.

But the site will provide updates on the savers’ progress toward their goals, which allows donors to monitor the people who inspired them to make a contribution, says Dylan Higgins, chief executive of SaveTogether.

“While you can’t give to a specific individual, you can follow a specific individual,” he says. “You can get that feel-goodism from following that specific person.”

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