Week 6: GiveDirectly
With rising skepticism around the efficacy of charity, concern over high overhead costs, and uncertainty surrounding where dollars end up, GiveDirectly is a breath of fresh air. I am a big believer is examining the results of charitable giving and interventions, but it is difficult to measure impact objectively. GiveDirectly is changing this. They aim to reshape international giving, making direct transfers to the poor the benchmark against which other, more expensive approaches are evaluated.
This week's organization has a simple premise: GiveDirectly takes money from donors and give it to the poor. They can do this because modern payments technology has drastically cut the costs of sending money directly to the extreme poor, at the same time as new research has shown the powerful effects this has on their lives. They believe that direct giving should be the benchmark against which other traditional models are evaluated.
Rigorous, experimental evaluation of impacts is rare among nonprofits. To me, it makes perfect sense that an intervention or program should be evaluated objectively against simply using that money to give directly to the people who would benefit.
GiveDirectly collaborates with third-party researchers to measure the impact of cash transfers. Researchers are fully independent and independently-funded to prevent any bias. GiveDirectly reports the results of their evaluations and also announce studies before the data are in, so that they can be held accountable for the results. They use rigorous experimental research (randomized controlled trials) to measure our impact and answer public policy questions.
This kind of transparency and rigorous experimentation that we expect of other disciplines and sectors being applied to good work is refreshing. I hope it represents the future of philanthropy. It is also my hope that top-down programs will utilize the results of these studies to compare against their own programs.
Here's to radical transparency, honesty, and experimentation. May we all be as bold and open in our own pursuits.
Have a terrific week!