Kiva, the incredibly successful 3-year old non-profit peer-to-peer microlending organisation, has just announced release of an Application Programmers Interface (API) that will enable any developer to create new tools and applications supporting the Kiva lending community.
Using the API, developers will be able to access public data from Kiva – such as a full list of entrepreneurs requesting funds or the latest lending activity – and integrate it into whatever type of application they care to develop. Suggestions from Kiva to start developers thinking include an iPhone or Blackberry App or a map showing the real-time transfer of funds around the globe.
While this might sound all rather geeky, it is an incredibly important move for Kiva – as it acknowledges that as an organisation it can only deliver so much functional enhancement of its website and associated tools within the natural restrictions of time and money. By enabling any developer in the world to build tools that directly integrate with Kiva they stand to achieve a breadth and speed of functional evolution and audience reach far beyond anything they could hope for alone.
This is just what we saw when Facebook (5-years old this week) became the first of the mainstream online social networks to launch an API back in May 2007. Suddenly countless thousands of developers began adding functionality to the Facebook platform – everything from business applications and fundraising tools to food fight and zombie games – all of which fueled an incredibly rapid growth in member numbers.
Since then many other social network sites have followed Facebook in offering such support for application developers but, as far as I know, Kiva is the first non-profit site to take advantage of ‘going open’.
Who will be next? Will GlobalGiving follow suite or will a new entrant to the online fundraising world like soon to launch Play it Forward beat the established players to it? Whoever it is, I predict that we’ll see a lot more open-source API fundraising opportunities from online fundraisin