We're on the ground in the Bahamas

We're delivering $2,000 in cash to families most impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

bahamas map

Cash > Used clothes

Aid choices have historically been made by donors and aid agencies. They decide whether to ship bottles of water, sheets of drywall, or any other goods and services that victims of a disaster may need. They could instead simply send cash.

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Want to help after a disaster? Give your cash, not your clothing.
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Cash has a strong track record

Where markets and operational contexts permit, cash-based programming should be the preferred and default method of support.
Ban Ki Moon

Ban Ki-moon
8th Secretary-General of the UN

tick Speed Cash moves quickly –– no ports, shipping or heavy logistics. GiveDirectly was able to pay people 7 days (on average) after our first point of contact.
tick Efficiency More than 90¢ of each dollar donated to GiveDirectly’s past disaster relief programs in Texas and Puerto Rico ended up in the hands of recipients.
tick Impact In disaster settings, cash has shown impact across a range of outcomes – it can improve food and basic needs access, smooth consumption, and aid local economies.

Cash is transparent — end-to-end

1. Identify

We locate the communities who live in poverty and have suffered the most damage.

2. Register

In these high-damage communities, our team targets all residences.

3. Pay

After recipients are registered, they receive a $2,000 prepaid Visa card. Recipients can use the money to purchase what they need most.

4. Evaluate

We conduct phone surveys with recipients to collect program feedback and spending data.

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Previous recipient stories

Recipients define their own needs.

After a major disaster, each person’s circumstances, needs, and opportunities are different. If we had purchased the most commonly observed bundle in our Puerto Rico pilot program, we would have matched the spending preferences of only 6% of recipients.

Chart showing percentage of money spent in each category
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Frequently Asked Questions

Hurricane Dorian program

+Is my donation tax-deductible?

Yes, donations are tax-deductible in the United States. GiveDirectly is a registered 501(c)(3), and our U.S. federal EIN is 27-1661997.

+I’m an existing GiveDirectly donor – will any of my donations go to Dorian?

No. Only donations specifically marked for disaster relief at point of donation will be delivered to recipients affected by Dorian. Donations marked for our poverty alleviation programs (or those marked “no preference”) will not be used in disaster relief efforts.

+How do you decide who receives money?

To identify those who are most impacted by Hurricane Dorian, we look at two variables: poverty and damage. First, we use aerial imagery and existing poverty data sets to identify highly impacted areas. Next, our field team confirms the eligibility of recipients through on-site damage assessment and verification of enrollment criteria.

+How much of my donation does a recipient receive?

In our previous disaster relief pilots, over 90 cents of every dollar donated was delivered to recipients. The remainder was spent on key aspects of our operations: identifying the recipients most in need, preventing fraud, and ensuring a high bar of customer service.

+Can I sign up to be a recipient?

Unfortunately, GiveDirectly is not able to respond to individual requests for cash transfers. In order to ensure fairness and equity in our processes, we only select recipients using our eligibility process detailed above.

+Will you be responding to future disasters?

That's our goal. We're currently building both operational and fundraising capabilities around a range of humanitarian scenarios, including natural disasters, conflict, and refugee responses. Our decision on whether to deploy for a given disaster depends on the severity of the disaster, the number of low-income households impacted, and our ability to fundraise for relief efforts.

Disaster response at GiveDirectly

+How do I know recipients will spend cash appropriately?

The research is clear: poor households are some of the most effective spenders around. DFID’s High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers concluded that “Cash transfers are one of the more thoroughly researched forms of development intervention” (ODI, 2015) . In addition, common concerns that people will spend money on vices have been consistently disproven (Evans and Popova, 2016). In a post-disaster context, needs can vary greatly. Cash empowers recipients to spend on what they need most. A good question to ask: if your home was hit by a disaster and someone gave you $2,000 how would you spend the money? Having said that –– we don’t know that every recipient will spend the way the donor thinks best. By giving cash, donors entrust recipients to best define their own needs.

+What’s the evidence base on cash?

Over 165 studies on cash have shown impact across a range of outcomes. Learn more on our research page.

+How much of disaster relief funding is distributed as cash today?

There is room to grow the use of cash in disaster relief. In 2016, the Global Public Policy Institute estimated that if cash were used wherever the evidence suggests it should be, it would account for 40% of humanitarian aid, four-times its current share. (Steets et al, GPPI, 2016)

Dorian Operations

+Who is GiveDirectly?

GiveDirectly is an nonprofit with 10 years of experience delivering over $150 million across six countries. In 2017, our team ran two disaster relief pilot programs in response to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. To learn more about this work, see our published whitepaper here.

+How do you prevent fraud?

We use a mix of prevention, detection, and auditing techniques to manage fraud. These include, for example, defined staff roles, controls on the number of cards that can be ordered per batch, spot checks of data captured in the field, remote GPS coordinate checks, and independent follow-up calls with recipients, among others. We use government-issued IDs, utility bills, and other documents to confirm the recipients' place of residence.

+Can I choose to whom to give?

No; you cannot choose an individual recipient. Practically speaking, if we did the latter we would risk being regulated as a money transfer service and losing our charitable status. Philosophically, we aim to target the poorest possible recipients in high impact areas of Hurricane Dorian, and not those with compelling profiles or narratives.

+Do you implement the program yourself or partner with other organizations?

We manage the full transfer process, end-to-end. We partner with other organizations to improve our technology and data but our team directly manages each stage of the transfer process.

Aerial imagery provided by noaa.gov