GiveDirectly is a nonprofit that lets donors send money directly to the world’s poorest households. GiveDirectly believes people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives — cash enables that choice.

What problem is GiveDirectly working on?

According to more than 300 independent reviews, cash is an effective way to help people living in poverty. Recipients of cash typically end up less poor and put cash towards improving different aspects of their lives. Cash can help drive a range of important, positive changes in people’s lives.

Yet, people living in extreme poverty rarely get to decide how aid money intended to help them gets spent. Cash transfers make up a very small proportion of aid and charitable giving.

What does GiveDirectly do?

Since 2009, GiveDirectly has given more than $580 million in direct cash transfers to more than 1.3 million people living in poverty. Research from GiveDirectly and others shows recipients spend the money on essentials like medicine, farm animals, school fees, clean water, solar lights, tin roofs, irrigation, and more.


In addition, GiveDirectly measures its impact through rigorous research, conducts pilot programmes and experimental tests, and reports on the evidence base for cash transfer programmes. It is currently testing:

  • A basic income programme in Kenya in which it is distributing cash to recipients for up to 12 years and collecting data on the impact of this programme compared to controls.
  • The impact of giving large cash payments to refugees (after a successful pilot in Uganda).

What evidence is there of GiveDirectly’s effectiveness?

GiveDirectly meets the criteria to be listed on our platform based on the assessment of two of our trusted charity evaluators: GiveWell, Founders Pledge, and Open Philanthropy. (Our trusted evaluators are charitable giving experts who focus on impact — their research into the best charities means your donations can do even more good. Learn more about charity evaluators we trust and why.)

GiveDirectly was previously one of our top charities due to being a GiveWell top charity from 2012 to 2022. GiveWell’s decision to no longer recommend GiveDirectly was not based on any shift in thinking about GiveDirectly, but rather a change in GiveWell’s top charity criteria. After updating its criteria, GiveWell still stated, “GiveDirectly is one of the strongest programs that we’ve found in years of research and we continue to have a very high view of their work.”

For more information about GiveWell’s assessment of GiveDirectly, see:

Founders Pledge’s research team also advised us that GiveDirectly met the criteria to be listed on our platform, and Open Philanthropy has given GiveDirectly multiple grants in recent years.

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation’s work, which considers much more than just the administration costs of the organisation. Learn more about this common “overhead myth” and our approach to charity evaluation.

Why donate through the Giving What We Can donation platform?

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