Giving Money Directly to Poor People

Hughes addressed the gathering, describing how he gave up on nonprofits for a while after Jumo, a social network he founded for nonprofits to spread the word about themselves, failed to gain traction. Then Hughes came across GiveDirectly. “Instead of building hospitals, why don’t we just give poor people money? Research shows it’s effective,” he said.

Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes has joined the board of GiveDirectly, which currently gives donors a way to give directly to poor households in Kenya. The family can then decide to use the money however they want.

Planet Money recently ran a story about a retired contractor named Tim Meyers who raised money to build a school in Haiti and discovered how arduous the process was. He also became skeptical about how much he was actually helping. When the Planet Money team brought up the fact that there are economists out there who believe that giving money directly to poor people is often more effective than focusing on raising large amounts of money to build physical structures, Meyers replied: “I agree to a certain extent. Give it to them. Some of them are going to take that money to better their quality of life. Yeah, I believe that.”

If you could turn back the clock would you just write a check to all the parents of the kids who go to that school?

“Definitely,” Meyers said.

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