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Region of impact
Africa, United States
Total funding
$2.4 million
Funding began in
Economic Opportunity


Empowering the most marginalized communities through direct cash transfers

What they do

Studies suggest that 700 million people around the world live in extreme poverty. People who are fighting for immediate essentials are rarely able to invest in their future. And unfortunately, many nonprofits designed to offer set types of goods and services aren’t able to meet the unique needs of individual recipients affected by the world’s worst crises.

GiveDirectly has very a different idea: that an effective way to have a long-term impact on humanitarian crises is to give people direct cash transfers with no strings attached. Funds are delivered via simple mobile transfers. Recipients can then invest the money in whatever is most pressing - whether that be planting crops, replacing a roof, avoiding debt, or sending their kids to a better school. No matter the decision, GiveDirectly meticulously tracks each donation in order to ensure that the aid is being spent effectively, and invests in robust fraud detection and prevention systems.

All this data collection has also produced a larger revelation. GiveDirectly's ongoing research shows that letting the most marginalized communities be their own financial decision makers doesn’t just lift them out of poverty, but has a ripple effect that influences everything from local market rebound, agriculture and labor practices to education and women’s rights.

How we're helping has supported GiveDirectly’s work since its early days. saw so much potential in GiveDirectly’s research that we gave them a $2.4 million grant in 2012. The grant helped the organization scale direct cash transfers to more Kenyan families and duplicate its program in Uganda. Two years later, a second round of funding enabled GiveDirectly to expand to additional countries in East Africa as well as conduct a study in Western Kenya. With’s support, GiveDirectly has impacted the lives of more than 75,000 people living in poverty in East Africa.

A study released last year on GiveDirectly’s work in Rwanda found that large cash transfers had a meaningful and significant effect on reducing malnutrition when compared to an existing nutrition program. This research highlights the importance of benchmarking various interventions against cash programming. The framework of benchmarking against cash is now being used by USAID in several studies in the development space, helping to bring greater efficiency to their work.

Project gallery

GiveDirectly recipients can access their money from their cell phones.
A mother and three children, recipients of GiveDirectly funding, smile in front of their home.
A man tends to his local chicken farm. GiveDirectly funds can help pay for supplies, equipment, and repairs on this farm.
Three people at a mobile device maintenance kiosk, where their phone-based credit can be exchanged for cash.


How do GiveDirectly transfers affect recipient households?


What are the macroeconomic and long-term impacts of giving directly? (Study In Progress)



Want to save the world? Try using cold hard cash

May 24, 2016


GiveDirectly's breakthrough 'Free Money' Model grows as evidence mounts

February 10, 2014


The charity that just gives money to poor people

August 23, 2013


Want to help people? Just give them money

March 28, 2013


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