Marc Gunther explored the persistent inequality within the charity sector this week in an expose on the industry in Vox. Up in Canada, new details on Ontario’s basic income experiment were released, including a commitment to incorporating rigorous experimental research into the province’s ambitious plan.


1. Canada Has Unveiled the Details of Its Highly Anticipated UBI Program
Futurism, Dom Galeon, April 25, 2017
Other countries and nonprofit groups have been running UBI pilots – most notably Finland, the Netherlands, and a startup called GiveDirectly that’s been running basic income programs in several Kenyan villages. Another effort from a non-profit in the U.S. focused on giving basic income via a cryptocurrency.

2. Rich charities keep getting richer. That means your money isn’t doing as much good as it could.
Vox, Marc Gunther, April 24, 2017
The emergence of such groups has helped some startups buck the trend. GiveDirectly, for example, has raised about $136 million since it was founded 10 years ago. The charity, which makes direct cash transfers to extremely poor people in east Africa, draws support from Silicon Valley donors and from the “effective altruism” movement, which rewards charities that subject themselves to independent, third-party reviews. In general, however, “You don’t see the poor performers going out of business, and the great performers growing,” says Michael Faye, an economist and co-founder of GiveDirectly.

3. Canada is launching an experiment that will give 4,000 people free money until 2020
Business Insider, Chris Weller, April 24, 2017
Finland’s government launched its pilot on January 1 and is giving 2,000 unemployed Finns $590 a month. In various cities throughout the Netherlands, 250 people will soon receive an extra $1,100 a month for two years. And in Kenya, the charity GiveDirectly has launched a trial version of a 12-year study that seeks to gather the first longitudinal data on basic income.


4. Yes, giving money to very poor people will make their lives better — just ask Ecuador
The Huffington Post, Andrés Mideros Mora, April 25, 2017
According to a United Nations University (UNU) – Merit study of Ecuador’s Human Development Bonus (Bono de Desarrollo Humano, or BDH), direct cash transfers have definitively improved social mobility, that’s the ability of individuals or households to move between social strata. And it has helped poor families climb out of poverty, especially when complemented by other economic-inclusion programs.

5. Resisting change: understanding obstacles to social progress
OUP Blog, Duncan Green, April 24, 2017
Often inertia is rooted in the conceptions and prejudices held by decision makers, even when their own material interest is not at risk. In Malawi, researchers found that ideas about ‘the poor’—the ‘deserving’ vs. the ‘undeserving’ poor—had a significant impact on individuals’ readiness to support cash transfers to people living in poverty. The elites interviewed—which included civil society, religious leaders, and academics as well as politicians, bureaucrats, and private sector leaders—all believed that redistributive policies make the poor lazy (or lazier). The overwhelming evidence for the effectiveness of cash transfers made no difference; neither did the fact that the elites stand to lose little from such reforms (and could even gain electorally, in the case of politicians).
6. I’ve worked in foreign aid for 50 years—Trump is right to end it, even if his reasons are wrong
Quartz, Tom Dichter, April 21, 2017
A few years ago, a person named Jason Sadler wanted to help poor Africans by sending them a million free t-shirts. Sadler had never been to Africa, never worked in foreign aid, and while he evidently wanted to help the poor, his “1 Million T-Shirts” project was doomed by a mindless lack of reflection and zero up-front homework. Was there a need for T-shirts? Poor Africans all over the continent walk around in used T-shirts emblazoned with the names of plumbers in Kansas or bowling allies in New Jersey, and every road-side market stall sells them. Did it make economic sense to pack and ship a million T-shirts when the same money could instead be invested in something that might be lasting? And what about the effect of dumping these garments on poor economies already filled with similar donated goods? He didn’t ask.


7. Giving More People an Opportunity to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead
Ontario Press Release, April 24, 2017
Ontario’s economy is in a relatively strong position, however many people in the province are not feeling that growth in their everyday lives. People are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living and facing “precarious employment” with little job security or benefits. This pilot will study whether a basic income can bridge that gap and give people the security and opportunity they need to achieve their potential.

8. Ontario plans to launch universal basic income trial run this summer
The Guardian, Ashifa Kassam, April 24, 2017
The Canadian province of Ontario will launch a trial run of universal basic income with about 4,000 participants this summer, making it the first North American government in decades to test out a policy touted as a panacea to poverty, bloated bureaucracy and the rise of precarious work.

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