GiveDirectly allows governments, foundations, and individual donors to provide direct cash transfers to the extreme poor. Using the latest technology at every step, GiveDirectly locates recipients, integrate them into electronic payments networks, and monitor transfers end-to-end. GiveDirectly charges the full cost of delivering this service and nothing more.
GiveDirectly first locates extremely poor communities using publicly available data. GiveDirectly then sends field staff door-to-door to digitally collect data on poverty and enroll recipients. They target households using criteria that vary by region—including aggregating a range of factors or looking at housing materials.
GiveDirectly uses a set of independent checks to verify that recipients are eligible and did not pay bribes, such as physical back-checks, image verification, and data consistency checks. For example, we use GPS coordinates and crowdsourced labor to detect irregularities. They have experimented with using satellite imagery.
GiveDirectly transfers recipient households roughly $1,000, or around one year's budget for a typical household. They use electronic payment systems; typically, recipients receive an SMS alert and then collect cash from a mobile money agent in their village or nearest town.
GiveDirectly calls each recipient to verify receipt of funds, flag issues, and assess our own customer service. They also staff a hotline for inbound calls and in some cases staff follow up in person.
GiveDirectly aims to reshape international giving, making direct transfers to the poor the benchmark against which other, more expensive approaches are evaluated.
Traditional ways of giving internationally are complex.Donors typically give to international NGOs that manage money, fundraise, and implement programs through partner organizations abroad which have their own (usually hidden) cost structures. Overall it is hard for donors to tell how their money will be used, what this will cost, and whether there is any evidence that it works.
At GiveDirectly, they created a simpler way: they take 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. At GiveDirectly, they see these trends converging to make direct giving the benchmark against which the old, top-down models are evaluated.