Kiva is a nonprofit I have long admired. Started by Michael Flannery, Kiva’s mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty. Kiva allows donors to make online loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries through their website – Kiva.org.

They are looking to leverage their structure – technology, donors, relationships – to address other social problems. The idea is that their approach can be applied in other ways. The organization has taken its first step to expand its offerings by adding student loans.

Calling this approach education microcredit, Kiva is utilizing its resources and is figuring out ways to capture information on what works in this space. They are not alone. Last year a Seattle-based nonprofit called Vittana set-up a website to enable donors to make small loans to students in emerging countries. They have seen consistent growth in the number of loans month to month.

I think this continues to support the notion that people are interested in different approaches to philanthropy. There is increased interest in learning about social investments and microcredit. I think what will be fascinating to watch is how much these approaches become normal, longstanding commitments in people’s individual philanthropic portfolios. If these organizations can continue to innovate and to measure the results, no doubt more donors will be drawn.