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Peals of ululation – Cash in the News

This week the New York Times magazine reported a long feature on our groundbreaking basic income experiment. They talked about the research behind cash transfers, the work of our field team in Kenya, and most importantly the lives of the recipients in the basic income pilot village. Also of note this week: Devex reported on some early insights from that basic income pilot village, and GiveDirectly’s own Matt Johnson spoke about the key highlights from 2016 on the radio.

GIVEDIRECTLY IN THE NEWS AND BLOGS

1. Early insights from the first field test of universal basic income
Devex, Catherine Cheney, February 27, 2017
GiveDirectly has now released the results of the first phone survey since the pilot began, asking people how the income has impacted their lives. A respondent named Erick (only first names are disclosed) used his entire first transfer to purchase a fishing net and a floater. Milka purchased food but kept most of the transfer as savings. Fredrick put most of the transfer toward school fees, while also spending money on clean water, food and soap.

2. A Universal Basic Income in Africa
Reason, Jesse Walker, February 27, 2017
The leading player here is GiveDirectly, a U.S.-based charity buoyed by the rise of mobile payments, which have made it much easier to send people money without passing through political or bureaucratic middlemen. The group has been sending conditionless cash aid to East Africa for several years, with encouraging results. It is now preparing an ambitious experiment in a universal basic income. In this setup, everyone in several Kenyan villages, not just the neediest citizens, will be eligible to get money. (I reported on this privately funded experiment back in December, and you can read that story for an outline of the plan.)

3. Matt Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of Give Directly, Joins Denver Frederick
The Business of Giving, Matt Johnson, February 2017
Matt Johnson from GiveDirectly talks about basic income, GDLive, and other updates from GiveDirectly in 2016.

4. This Idea for Fighting Global Poverty Keeps Getting Hotter, Especially in Silicon Valley
Inside Philanthropy, Sue-Lynn Moses, February 25, 2017
Interest keeps growing among funders in the idea of fighting global poverty by making direct cash transfers to poor households and letting the recipients spend that money as they see fit. And nowhere is this interest stronger than in Silicon Valley, where GiveDirectly—the lead nonprofit promoting cash transfers—has found some powerful allies.

5. The Future of Not Working
The New York Times Magazine, Annie Lowrey, February 23, 2017
Then he laid out the particulars. “Every registered person will receive 2,280 shillings” — about $22 — “each and every month. You hear me?” The audience gasped and burst into wild applause. “Every person we register here will receive the money, I said — 2,280 shillings! Every month. This money, you will get for the next 12 years. How many years?”“Twelve years!” Just like that, with peals of ululation and children breaking into dance in front of the strangers, the whole village was lifted out of extreme poverty.

6. Donation notation
Corporate Knights, Marc Gunther, February 23, 2017
Would it in fact be helpful if more nonprofits provided more data about the costs of what they do? A few NGOs are radically transparent about costs. GiveDirectly, Watsi, and Donors Choose come to mind, and surely there are others. I find their approach to be refreshing and reassuring. Can it be more widely applied? Should it be? Or are will this only fuel the dreaded “overhead myth.”

7. A Teenager’s View on Giving Well
The Huffington Post, Linch Zhang, February 21, 2017
But Zev didn’t want to give to just any charity. He wanted to donate to an organization that effectively does the most good. He thought about where to donate for a while, did some research, and finally settled on a single organization. You might think that Zev would choose a complicated technocratic intervention, or perhaps help fund a really exciting and innovative new research. Instead, Zev opted for perhaps the simplest intervention possible: Giving money directly to the very poor through the aptly named charity GiveDirectly.

EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM IN THE NEWS

8. How to be good: Can science show us how to save the world?
The New Scientist, February 22, 2017
GREG LEWIS wanted to make the world a better place, and training to become a doctor seemed like the obvious path. But Lewis was curious: exactly how many lives could he expect to save with his chosen career?