Rolling Jubilee is an American charity that buys up personal debt from the same markets as do collection agencies, and then forgives it unconditionally.

This is not an ineffective model; they buy about $45 worth of debt for every dollar donated, and forgiving this debt is the first step in allowing the debtors to rebuild their credit scores. It also saves then from harassment from debt collectors, which is no small matter. Unfortunately, it is also not a very targeted model; they have no way of targeting a specific population, and are certainly forgiving some debts that were not causing any harm, or alternatively, that will not be followed up on to officially remove them from the debtor's credit report. This also does not help people who are paying off heavy debt loads in a timely manner, those with federally funded student debt, and those who have successfully filed for bankruptcy.

To a large extent the organization seems to be fueled primarily on ideological grounds, namely the belief that debt should not be bought and sold as a commodity. It is part of the Strike Debt organization that is aligned with Occupy Wall Street, and it naturally sees reducing the influence of the banking sector as a core value. Although the term 'jubilee' comes from the Judaic/Christian tradition in which all debts are periodically canceled, the organization is not affiliated with any religion.

Regardless of the ideological origins of the organization, a number of real people are going to be better off based on these donations. At the same time, I cannot help but think that a donation to your local food bank or Planned Parenthood will do more to help alleviate poverty in America.


You can read more, or donate, at their site.

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