Giving Getaways

Giving Getaways
If you don’t have the time or funds to take a volunteer vacation but still want to help others, consider microfinancing.

►HOW IT WORKS. An easy way to contribute funds directly to people in developing countries, microfinancing allows villagers to launch or expand small businesses (such as farming or selling crafts). Most initial loan amounts are between $30 and $200, and borrowers must repay in weekly installments within six months. You’ll get 1 to 3 percent interest on your loan.

►WHO DOES IT. Lending programs such as and microplace .org thoroughly screen all potential beneficiaries before rating them credit-worthy; the goal of these programs is to empower individuals to achieve economic independence.

1. MAKE SURE YOU’RE A GOOD MATCH. Many volunteer vacation programs are politically or religiously affiliated, so scan mission statements carefully before signing up to be sure your values coincide.

2. KNOW WHAT’S EXPECTED OF YOU. In addition to finding out exactly what kind of work you’ll be doing, ask the program staff about any extra responsibilities, such as cooking and cleaning.

3. GET ALL THE DETAILS. Inquire about the particulars of your living conditions and if you’ll need any language training or orientation. Find out exactly what is (and isn’t) covered under the trip fee.