Friday 21st October 2016                 Change text size:

TED talks: Should you donate differently? – Joy Sun

tedxeastend 1 by Jason Wen via Flickr

Modern technology means that, rather than sending privileged Western aid workers to the impoverished corners of the world, we could simply put money directly into the hands of the needy. But should we?

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In this week’s featured TED Talk, GiveDirectly CEO and veteran aid worker Joy Sun talks about the moment she realized the flaws in modern charity. 

“Honestly, I believed that I could do more good with money for the poor than the poor could do for themselves,” she says.

“I held two assumptions: One, that poor people are poor in part because they’re uneducated and don’t make good choices; two is that we then need people like me to figure out what they need and get it to them. It turns out, the evidence says otherwise.” 

Studies have found that the poor can be trusted to use such direct, unconditional cash transfers to improve their own lives. 

“Pregnant women in Uruguay buy better food and give birth to healthier babies. Sri Lankan men invest in their businesses,” Joy Sun says.

And so, GiveDirectly was formed to allow donors to transfer money directly to those in need. It has so far given cash to 35,000 people across rural Kenya and Uganda, in one-off payments of $1,000 per family. 

“I believe in aid. I believe most aid is better than just throwing money out of a plane. I am also absolutely certain that a lot of aid today isn’t better than giving directly to the poor. I hope that one day, it will be.”


To view this video on the TED website, click here.

Further reading:

Ban Ki-Moon encourages people to give on the International Day of Charity

TED talks: Changing Perspectives: The Promise and Challenge of Renewable Energy – Jamey Stillings

TED talks: your top five featured TED Talks

TED talks: How to grow a tiny forest anywhere – Shubhendu Sharma

The Guide to Sustainable Philanthropy 2014

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