Have you ever heard of Kiva?
We are a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.I've been a member for a while. I started out loaning $25, and I figured I'd loan that out until someone didn't pay it back. Well it's been a few years and when I saw a groupon sale for Kiva I invested again, and now I have two loans out at any one time. It is not much. (although in this day and age of recession and goverments that are about to go poof, sometimes it is a little bit more then people can afford) but it can do a lot of good.
Well Kiva has decided to try to expand to new people by giving them $25 to loan out. You get to pick who you loan money to, and get the whole Kiva experience, but instead of getting repaid to yourself, the money goes back to Kiva. That way you can get your feet wet trying out Kiva with out risking your own money. They are gambling that you'll like the idea and want to invest in people yourself in the future. Although with their great repayment rates, it really isn't that much of a gamble.
Kiva does ask you to support them with additional donations each time you make a loan, but you do not have to.
Full disclosure, if enough people click and loan, I get a free t-shirt. But I'm not really a t-shirt girl so I hope there is a way to tell them not to bother.. I'm not sure there is any other way to get the free first loan with out the link..