Charity return on investment is important. Thanks World Vision!

There are a great number of groups doing a lot of good in the world, and I’m concerned that *something* in the way we process information about poverty and health needs in the developing world has made us far too skeptical of how easy it can be to save lives, and far too skeptical of the groups that are doing a good job.

This in part leads to what I’d argue is an immoral state of affairs in the charity world. Most people in the USA give far more to University, Hospital, and Museum endowments than they give to organizations serving the third world that are saving lives for a few bucks rather than simply making our already very comfortable middle class lives a *bit* better. I guess that’s OK but I’ll take the big ROI on my charity investments, thank you.

It feels very good knowing your money is actually saving lives, living because I chose to give to high ROI charities.

The simple story is that it costs very little to save lives in the developing world. Although it’s a little counterintuitive it’s also clear that reduced death rates lead to reduced birth rates and lower population. I’m floored by how poorly this is understood by otherwise intelligent people, and it seems to be the top reason people say they don’t want to give money to extremely poor people. Graft and corruption are major problems in the third world which is why you want to give to “NGOs” or “non-governmental organizations” which tend to be far more effective at making sure the money finds its way to the right people.

So, let’s apply this ROI in real life and give some money in honor of my Mother’s birthday today. I think charities like World Vision do a lot of good but also suffer from the kind of fatigue people show when presented with a lot of “dying children” information. This is unfortunate because World Vision leverages cheap and free expertise to deliver a lot per donated dollar. Here is the campaign mom likes:

Major pharmaceutical companies have recently donated over $174 million in medicines and supplies to World Vision.
But we need your help to distribute them where they’re needed most.

The medicine is Mebendazole and some others that fight worms and intestinal viruses – one of the leading killers in the developing world. World Vision has the meds but needs money to ship them. The “multiplier” in this case is 13x – ie a donation of a mere 7.7 cents delivers – literally – a dollar of medicines.

So, time to stop writing and do some good and give $770 dollars to this campaign for a health impact of just over $10,000!

Donor Name: Joseph Hunkins
Donation Total: $770.00
Donation Date: 27-Sep-2007
Completed Date: 27-Sep-2007
Payment Type: 
Credit Card Type:

Happy Birthday Mom!

World Vision

6 thoughts on “Charity return on investment is important. Thanks World Vision!

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  4. Return on investment?
    I wonder what some tribal warlord considers a return on his investment. AK-47s are cheap and most competition is for young males as soldiers, so health care for neonates leads to greater power of warlords and higher numbers of ethnic motivated slaughter or else it leads to more mutilations of trigger fingers and greater dependency on continued American handouts.

    Its a lamentable reality that Americans just don’t grasp the real world: our kid’s dimes to free African slaves merely enriched the slave owners and enabled them to buy more slaves.

    Americans just don’t understand. All of African and Eastern European ethnic cleansing has been going on for eons and will continue to do so. Any humanitarian efforts to feed the hungry simply re-inforces their dependence on handouts by suppressing local agriculture. Any vaccination program simply shifts the death curve in favor of the dominant military groups. Americans complain of combatants killing the men and raping the women. Well, what would these American do-gooders want? The women killed and the men raped?

    Return on Investment? May I direct your investments to collapsing bridges and pot-hole filled roadways rather than to the fodder of warlords?

  5. Fodder of warlords? I think you are being overly skeptical. The overwhelming killers and causes of suffering are simple and curable health problems in 3rd world. There is every reason to believe that efforts to alleviate hunger / health problems lead to greater stability, so even if selfishness was our only metric this is a good way to increase US security. But selfishness is not the only metric – it’s “good” for humans to help suffering humans and a lot more rewarding than filling a few potholes.

    Now, if you are talking about places like Darfur or North Korea, where aid is often redirected questionably, I agree things are far more complicated.

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