Blog post

Stop the myth today

2 min read
24 Jan 2014

Myth: We give money to Africa and nothing changes.

This is just one of the false and dangerous ideas that Bill Gates sets out to tackle in his latest campaign against poverty. The annual letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for 2014 sets out three common misconceptions about government aid, and presents arguments to show that they are mistaken. Not only that, these myths actively cause harm by discouraging people from donating, and thereby preventing poor people from making the progress needed to lift themselves out of poverty.

You can see the full series of Gates’ videos on our myths about aid page.

Gates tackles the first myth that ‘poor countries are doomed to stay poor’, by demonstrating that in fact, “the world is better than it has ever been”. In the last fifty years, there has been a significant improvement in infant mortality rates in many countries, and a huge improvement in welfare in countries such as China and Mexico that have moved from ‘developing’ into the ‘middle income’ bracket. The idea that we can’t do anything to help is harmful as it prevents us from investing our own funds in interventions that will greatly improve the lives of many people.

It’s important to combat these myths and, once the facts are in place, to think carefully about individual giving, and about where you personally can have the most impact. This is because it’s not just the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that can make a huge difference to people’s lives; by giving as little as 10% of your own income, you can dramatically and realistically improve the lives of thousands of people. Put plainly, the facts are:

  1. We are spending less on aid than we think, and less than we think we should.
  2. We can each make a great difference individually, and together we can end extreme poverty in this lifetime.
  3. Corruption only makes it more important to give to the best charities.
  4. We can help people in developing countries to help themselves, rather than depend on assistance.
  5. The best health interventions are likely to reduce the problem of overpopulation rather than making it worse.

The best way to avoid the potential pitfalls of aid is to carefully consider which charity to give to. Find out which charities can best use your donation on our recommended charities page, and why not try giving now?