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‘Digital native’ & depth of skills – Cash in the News

Looking for a “digital native” NGO that’s “widely known to be good at tech”? Tom Steinberg lists GiveDirectly in his article “How Can Funders Know Who to Trust When It Comes to Tech Advice?” On the evidence behind cash transfers, Stephen Kidd asks, “To Condition or Not to Condition: What is the Evidence?” and an article in the American Economic Review analyzes the long-term impacts of a US cash program.

GIVEDIRECTLY IN THE NEWS AND BLOGS

1. How mobile money is providing access to basic services to the most disadvantaged communities
Unicef stories, March 24, 2016
An NGO which operates in Kenya and Uganda and makes unconditional cash transfers to people living in extreme poverty. In Kenya, Give Directly uses M-Pesa, a mobile money transfer mentioned previously. In Uganda,it uses the mobile money system called MTN. In Kenya, once a recipient is identified as eligible, a field officer instructs him or her on how to register for an M-Pesa account. In Uganda, Give Directly facilitates procurement of IDs for recipients and works with MTN to organize village-level mobile money registration drives. Once the account is updated and verified, Give Directly sends transfers. The recipient receives text messages informing him or her of the transfer.

2. How Can Funders Know Who to Trust When It Comes to Tech Advice?
Inside Philanthropy, Tom Steinberg, March 24, 2016
Ask some of the few NGOs that are widely known to be good at tech what they think about the person/organisation you are considering hiring/contracting. The nonprofit space is still largely dominated by relatively low-tech organisations, but there are now a fair few that are ‘digital native’ and have depth of skills. These include the Engine Room, Tactical Tech, Crisis Text Line, Frontline SMS, GiveDirectly, Open Knowledge Foundation, Ushahidi and (huge conflict of interest declaration) my former employer mySociety.

3. What Happens when you just Give Money Away?
Bloom Trust Blog, Edward Collins, March 24, 2016
You might think no such charity would ever exist because it is an awful idea and the money would just be squandered by those who receive. You would be wrong – on both accounts. There exists a charity today called Give Directly. Give Directly does exactly what I am talking about. They will get large donations or crowdfund donations using various marketing strategies online, and then they will go to remote villages in Africa and literally give the money directly to the people that are suppose to benefit from the village.


CASH TRANSFERS AND GLOBAL POVERTY

4. How mobile money is providing access to basic services to the most disadvantaged communities
Care2, Cody Fenwick, March 24, 2016
As Eduardo Porter argued in the New York Times, all the evidence seems to suggest otherwise. Welfare payments frequently enable people to better their own conditions. Extensive research on cash transfer programs from multiple countries shows no sign that they make people less likely to work.

5. To Condition or Not to Condition: What is the Evidence?
Development Pathways, Stephen Kidd, March 2016
In 2006, when working on social protection at DFID, we were approached by the World Bank with a request for financial support for a conference on conditional cash transfers (CCTs) that they were planning to hold in Istanbul. We told the Bank that we would be happy to support the conference on condition that they allowed us to choose the speaker who would argue against conditions, in a debate they were planning. As expected, the Bank staff were not particularly happy with having conditions imposed on them, but they eventually relented: so, we chose the speaker and they received their money (thus proving that conditions do work in some contexts).

6. What Happens when you just Give Money Away?
American Economic Review, Aizer, Anna, Shari Eli, Joseph Ferrie, and Adriana Lleras-Muney, April 2016
We estimate the long-run impact of cash transfers to poor families on children’s longevity, educational attainment, nutritional status, and income in adulthood. To do so, we collected individual- level administrative records of applicants to the Mothers’ Pension program — the first government-sponsored welfare program in the United States (1911-1935) — and matched them to census, WWII, and death records. Male children of accepted applicants lived one year longer than those of rejected mothers. They also obtained one-third more years of schooling, were less likely to be underweight, and had higher income in adulthood than children of rejected mothers.

EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM

7. The Best Charity Uses the Head, But It Can’t Happen Without the Heart
Huffington Post Impact, Rachel Elizabeth Maley, March 24, 2016
As an effective altruist and advocate of the movement for nearly three years, I see the point that Bloom is trying to make: that we must consider the most pressing issues and the most efficient ways to solve them when making charitable decisions. But in the process of trying to discuss this relatively straightforward concept, at least its most basic value proposition, he states a dangerous fallacy: that empathy and reason are mutually exclusive.

BASIC INCOME

8. We have to seriously consider a universal basic income — Reich
NBR, Interview, March 27, 2016
Declining incomes, widening inequality and job insecurity mean one day we will have to seriously consider a universal basic income, says Robert Reich, the labour secretary in Bill Clinton’s cabinet.

9. Japan is considering giving away free money
Metro, Harry Readhead, March 25, 2016
Following the examples of Finland, Canada and the Netherlands, Japan is considering the introduction of basic income, a tax-free income, after recent surveys showed that under-34s in Japan have cut spending by 11.7 per cent year on year.

10. Automation and Basic Income
Gawker, Hamilton Nolan, March 25, 2016
So it is surprising that Puzder does not make the tiny logical leap towards advocating a universal basic income for every citizen in America. If you truly believe that automation could soon wipe out millions of jobs—without opening up an equal number of job opportunities in another sector of the economy—it is common sense to ask yourself, “So how will all those workers provide for themselves?”