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Kiva’s dormant funds – a missed opportunity?

I love Kiva as a micro-lending platform and am very excited that they hit the 1 million lender milestone. What’s killing me however is the thought that a significant number of funds is just dormant. What happens with all the money that is repaid?

I would classify myself as a semi-active contributor. According to my account page I have made 38 loans since I joined in November 2011 and contributed over $500 dollars (of new money). Making a loan is pretty straight forward and you should try it out if you haven’t. Get a $25 credit that you can lend for free.

Kiva infographic

The graphic above shows how effectively my money has been used. The ratio of money lent vs. money invested is roughly 1.6. Compare this to Pat’s 3.5! The higher the number, the better.

Kiva is doing a good job at informing me about repayments and encouraging me to relend my credit. Unfortunately their emails get lost in my inbox and the funds go unused. I made my last loan over 7 months ago and currently have over $340 in dormant funds.

Why can’t I automatically relend my repaid funds? In fact this was announced back in 2009. I can’t find this feature though and a lot of the related Google search results are not available anymore. Is there a legal reason why this is not available or does Kiva somehow benefit from dormant funds?

How to improve PG&E’s usage and charges graph

I was pleasantly surprised that PG&E includes graphs for usage and billing history on their website. You can view electricity usage and charges in a pretty neat (but simple) graph.

I’ve been living in my current apartment since March 2007 which is the first data point on the x-axis. I wonder if there is a limit to how many months they show?

Making it easier to compare

The electricity usage is obviously seasonal and you can see the ups and downs in the graph. It would make more sense to have a 1 year wide graph and overlay last years data over the current data in a line or area chart. This would make the comparison easier and more meaningful. Alternatively a 12-months trend line would provide additional information but with a significant delay.

I created the above graph using Google Docs. I like the look and it makes comparing the charges from one year to the next a lot easier. Even adding another year shouldn’t impact readability. Now I have to find out why I’m paying 15-20% more this year.

It would also be interesting to compare usage and charges in the same graph. Am I paying more because I’m using more or because electricity is more expensive?

What are other companies providing?

Not much. I would love to have similar graphs for my bank account, credit card and phone bill. In fact I initially started this post rambling about AT&T and how they make it really hard to look at usage history. I’ll save that for another post. Maybe I’ll whip out Greasemonkey and create a little script…

Update 7/8/08: I’ll have to check out Skydeck for my AT&T billing needs. Still in closed beta.