Was my mom a development genius?

Early in our marriage, Robin asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday. Good old Shirley blurted out, straight from the id, “just send money!”.

Turns out, she may have hit on the key to delivering development assistance.

At a time when the World Bank dithers around about the “science of delivery”, and people are proposing complicated “development impact bonds”, evidence is emerging that simply giving poor people money, no strings attached, can be an effective development strategy.

Give Directly is an organization that allows individuals to do exactly that. Give money directly to poor people. Here’s a piece in the Harvard Business Review about them.

Mom didn’t get cash for her birthday (Robin was horrified). But she was really on to something, and we are now including Give Directly in our philanthropic contributions (just don’t tell my mom).

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