While this charity is counter intuitive, given that Penta’s cover story is about the corrosive nature of Western aid to Africa, this organization works precisely because it doesn’t patronize Africans or insist it knows what’s best for locals. GiveDirectly simply distributes cash to the very poor in Kenya, without restrictions on how that cash should be used. That’s all they do. Although donors might be concerned the cash might not be spent wisely, or even used to buy drugs and alcohol, GiveDirectly was able to document that recipients spent the funds on necessities such as food, home improvements like fixing a leaky roof, livestock, and other necessities. This is a top-rated charity on Givewell.org. One of the Best For helping africa
Why it works: There’s no waste (shipping, using a middleman for supplies, etc.) when you give cash. And as GiveWell.org explains, “Strong evidence indicates that cash transfers lead recipients to spend more on their basic needs (such as food).” Sometimes, it also allows recipients to start their own businesses or make investments in their existing businesses, resulting in “very high returns, with no evidence of large increases in spending on items like alcohol or tobacco.” Plus, if the money is spent locally, it’s possible that these cash transfers have the added effect of stimulating the local economy.