This article originally appeared in 24hrs Vancouver on August 20, 2008.

Dreams. We all have them.

Your dream might be Heli Hiking, or a South American Extravaganza, maybe even attending the Gold Medal Hockey Games at the 2010 Olympics.

Dawn Bowles’ dream was to get a new road bike.

DreamBank.org launch - 100720082978“I had this really crappy old road bike that I had used for a triathlon, but I had never replaced it. And I really wanted a new one,” says Bowles.

As it was approaching Dawn’s birthday, she started to hear the familiar chorus from friends and family “What do you want for your birthday?” everyone would ask.

Dawn looked around at her group of friends, and realized she really didn’t need anything. When it came to clothes, or trinkets or the usual giftable items, she didn’t have a need – but she did crave a new road bike for triathlons.

“And it just sort of came to me,” she says. “It doesn’t make sense that I can’t ask for a road bike for my birthday, because if I put all the generous presents together that people would buy me, I would actually have it and I would save them time and energy.”

Dawn’s idea was to create DreamBank.org, a place where people can donate money to help make your dreams come true.

When it comes to gift giving season, we often get stuff. Useless trinkety gadgets that people “think” we’ll like. Yes, it’s “the thought that counts,” but why not put the thought into helping fulfill a dream?

The website allows you to post a dream and then solicit donations towards that dream from friends and family.

The DreamBank is perfect for the couple getting married later in life. You already have the home, the dinette, maybe even the kids – the DreamBank can be a polite way to have your wedding gifts fund a bathroom makeover or an extended honeymoon you never could have afforded.

Now while this is all great and wonderful, you need to remember that DreamBank is a business. Fees are charged for those donating to dreams ($2.25), and to you when you cash out your funds (2.5% of the total).

However, before you cash out your money, it gets pooled together with everyone else’s dream funds and the interest from those investments is donated to the dreamer’s choice of charities.

Currently I have a dream to run a marathon with Team Diabetes on Easter Island. I’ve chosen Kiva as my secondary charity in my DreamBank. It’s an organization that loans money to entrepreneurs in 3rd world countries. It’s not a gift, it’s a loan they repay.

They use the money to start or grow a business and make a better life for themselves and their family. Once the money is repaid, it is loaned to a different entrepreneur. One gift can get reloaned dozens, hundreds, thousands of times. It’s the ultimate in paying it forward.

And the best way to have my dream help fulfill someone else’s dream too.

Flickr image by Roland

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