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Making Charity Sexy

Charitable givers are making headlines. With Buffet's donations still fresh in people's minds, the newest issue of "Fortune Magazine" has Bill Clinton on the cover and the word 'philanthropy' across the front, as if he were some sort of generous superhero.

Inside the issue, Clinton's foundation and another, the Robin Hood Foundation, are highlighted due to their effectiveness. At use are historic business principles, like keeping costs down and rewarding top performers. The magazine also features innovative ways each charity is using that could be profitable for any organization to employ. Such coverage and analysis keep goodwill on the minds of many by telling its story far and wide.

So, philanthropy is popular. But, is it easy?

It is if you're millionaire Bill Clinton or one of the billionaires who gives to Robin Hood every year. But what about the little guys and girls who work for a paycheck and still want to give back?

Groups like Kiva show that anyone can be a lender. The organization deals out microfinance loans to people in countries facing drought, disease and famine. Lenders can lend as much or as little as they want. Lenders get repaid, and of course are then encouraged to re-lend to another worthy cause.

And, my own CoolPeopleCare helps those of us who can't be fulltime philanthropists. We've got jobs to work and kids to feed, but we still want a difference to make. So, we email out articles showing you how to help someone or something in less than 5 minutes. Add up a few minutes here and there, multiply this by millions of people, and you’ve got a revolution that seems very Gates-esque.

I’m glad that Warren Buffet and Bill Clinton grab the spotlight due to generosity. Sure, there will be critics who question motive, but the proof is in the pile of cash. Soon, when malaria is eradicated, when villagers in Lesoto have water and sustainable farms, and when every kid in Harlem can read, we know who to thank: them and us.

The bigwigs are the face folks. They give the money, write the checks, rub the elbows and get the credit. But those of us on the ground make their money work. We show up to tutor for an hour, we tell a friend to donate $25, we sell some stuff on eBay for a good cause, and we adopt a pet. They earn and we spend. And then they earn more and then we spend more by giving more back and getting more people involved at the grassroots level.

Sure, we won't make headlines. We'll be too busy making learners, survivors and dreamers.

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