From the GiveWell Blog:
We’ve been researching the cause of disaster relief, with the goal of doing a better job than we have in the past serving the donors who come to us for help in the wake of a crisis. At this point our research is still in progress, but we can offer some basic advice to donors interested in helping as effectively as possible:
- Give money; don’t give anything else. This has been one of the strongest and most agreed-upon recommendations of the “smart giving” community in general, and we join the broad consensus. Money enables organizations to provide what’s most needed. By contrast, “in-kind donations” need to be transported overseas; then agencies need to sort what’s useful from what isn’t; finally, they need to deal with non-useful supplies. This can worsen already-formidable logistical challenges, and in the end the costs of transportation and allocation can be greater than the value of the goods themselves.
For more, see our argument against in-kind donations from earlier this year (including a citation of USAID’s statement that in-kind donations are “most often inappropriate”), Alanna Shaikh’s discussion of in-kind donations on Aid Watch, and Saundra Schimmelpfenig’s 32 posts on the topic.
- Don’t give to an organization you’ve never heard of or an organization that calls you on the phone. This is common sense, a matter of being proactive with your giving (seeking to do as much good as possible) rather than reactive (giving to whoever approaches you and thus making yourself an easy potential victim for scams). We think it is especially risky to give over the phone, or in direct response to a mailing.
Read the entire piece at the GiveWell Blog.