Mission: To reshape international giving, making direct transfers to the poor the benchmark against which other, more expensive approaches are evaluated.
Background: While studying international economic development at Harvard and MIT, Paul Niehaus, Michael Faye, Rohit Wanchoo, and Jeremy Shapiro established GiveDirectly as a private giving circle in 2009 and then, after two years of testing, opened it to the public in 2011. Niehaus and his co-founders were looking for the most effective way to use their own financial resources to reduce poverty and found that 1) there was a strong evidence base for the efficacy of direct cash transfers; and 2) that the rapid growth of mobile payments technology in emerging markets had created an opportunity to transfer cash securely and efficiently on an unprecedented scale. Today, GiveDirectly aims to find the poorest possible recipients using criteria that are accurate, cost-effective, perceived as fair, and difficult to game. Once a recipient has been identified and deemed eligible for a transfer, GiveDirectly wires the recipient roughly $1,000 — or around a year's budget for a typical household. Transfers are made using electronic payments services, and recipients receive an SMS alert and then collect the cash from a mobile money agent in their village or the nearest town. GiveDirectly then calls each recipient to verify the receipt of funds and flag any issues with the transfer. While GiveDirectly manages the transfer process in-house and does not outsource any part of it to other vendors, it does partner with research organizations to conduct independent evaluations of the impact of its programs.
Outstanding Web Features: The GiveDirectly homepage clearly outlines the organization's approach to extreme poverty alleviation, including its giving and operating models, efficiency benchmarks, evidence of impact, and financials. The site also encourages potential donors to learn more about the recently launched Basic Income Project, in which the organization, in partnership with leading economists, will rigorously test the impact of different models of basic income over twelve years in Kenya. The site's most direct communications channel is the GDLive news feed, where visitors can read unedited profiles of the recipients served by GiveDirectly, learn about their aspirations, and stay updated on their progress after they have received a cash transfer. The site also features an active blog used by GD staff and donors to share their thoughts and provide feedback.