Then in 2006, Muhammad Yunus won theNobel Peace Prize. The Bangladeshi economistdeveloped the concept of microfinancing, providing loans to poor entrepreneurs who can't gettraditional bank loans."I had a eureka of an idea," Ferber said. "Instead of a loan, it's a gift."He decided to create a website.Ferber made his millions through the Internet. He and his brother sold their 1990s startup ² Advertising.com ² toAOLin 2004 for $435 million.A Baltimore native, Ferber bought his home near Briny BreezesinPalm Beach Countythat same
year and settled into the area.In 2008, MicroGiving launched. It featured people down on their luck. They had lost their jobs,couldn't pay their rent or utilities. They needed money for medical care. Some were escapingdomestic violence. Others needed to pay an expensive veterinary bill.The site, he said, eliminated the middleman ² charitable agencies.But it was a bad time to begin a charitable enterprise. The economy was tanking. And there weremore people in need than those able to give.Ferber ended up the major donor for many of the hardship cases.A few months ago, he and his team remade the website, expanding how people could useMicroGiving. With the crowdfunding concept gaining steam, they opened the invitation toanyone to post a fundraising request.But sticking to its charitable roots, the nonprofit MicroGiving Foundation, based inDelrayBeach, takes 5 percent to 10 percent of the money raised for a project or business idea anddirects it to a charity or needy person featured on the site.Donors also are given the opportunity to leave a tip for the site's giving fund, which goes topeople in need.Donations ² which range from $10 to $1,000 ² come in by credit card, but MicroGivingFoundation doesn't ask for information to track donors by location or any other means.The foundation does conduct background checks on those claiming to have a hardship, verifyingthat they truly are in need.