GiveDirectly makes unconditional cash transfers to people living in extreme poverty. It currently runs several cash transfer programmes, including larger (one-time) and smaller, monthly transfers to people living in rural African villages; transfers targeting food insecurity in Yemen; cash transfers to refugees; and cash transfers targeting poverty and emergency relief in the US. It is also leading “the world’s largest and longest term study to date studying the effects of a Universal Basic Income.”

What does GiveDirectly do?

GiveDirectly’s mission is to help people living in extreme poverty by sending unconditional cash transfers. The organisation believes that “cash allows individuals to invest in what they need, instead of relying on aid organisations and donors thousands of miles away to choose for them.”


Fast facts

  • GiveDirectly was a GiveWell top charity from 2012-2022, until GiveWell updated its criteria. After updating its criteria, GiveWell still states, “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.” (GiveWell’s previous reviews, blog posts, and conversation notes from its evaluations of GiveDirectly can be found here.)
  • Open Philanthropy has awarded several grants to GiveDirectly, including one for $25 million in 2015.
  • GiveDirectly believes that “people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives.” Its cash transfer model enables that choice.
  • Research from GiveDirectly and others show recipients spend the money on essentials like medicine, farmed animals, school fees, clean water, solar lights, tin roofs, and irrigation.
  • GiveDirectly reports that, since 2009, it has delivered more than $550 million USD to over 1.25 million families living in poverty.
  • GiveDirectly's Large Transfer Program has reached over 300,000 households living in extreme poverty in Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, and Uganda. In addition to its Africa-based COVID-19 response fund, it also launched Project100+ in the US, which it reports was “the largest privately-funded U.S. COVID-19 Relief program.”

Why do we list GiveDirectly on our donation platform?

GiveDirectly meets the criteria to be listed on our platform because:

  • GiveDirectly was previously one of our top charities (due to GiveWell’s inclusion of it as a top-rated giving opportunity from 2012 to 2022).
  • Founders Pledge’s research team advised that GiveDirectly met the criteria to be listed on our platform.

Note: GiveWell’s decision to no longer recommend GiveDirectly was not based on any shift in thinking about GiveDirectly, but rather a change in its top charity criteria. (See more about GiveWell’s decision and how that decision affects our recommended global health and development charities. (See also GiveDirectly’s response to GiveWell’s change.)

Where can I learn more about GiveDirectly?

To learn more about GiveDirectly, we recommend reading more on GiveWell's detailed review, (but note: the review was published in 2020 and is no longer maintained).

Giving What We Can does not take any fees from donors using our platform or from charities listed on our platform. We are independently funded to promote our mission of making giving effectively and significantly a cultural norm. Read more on our transparency page.
Your current selection

Funds / Organisations you select will show up here