GiveDirectly plans a cash transfer response to COVID-19 in US

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I wanted to share to ev­ery­one that GiveDirectly, one of GiveWell’s top rated char­i­ties, is plan­ning to re­spond to COVID-19 in the US.

We’re plan­ning a (con­tactless) cash trans­fer re­sponse to COVID-19 in the U.S. We rec­og­nize that gov’t re­sponses, while large in scale, can’t meet the full need — whether by ex­clud­ing some of the most vuln­er­a­ble (e.g., el­derly, un­doc­u­mented, etc.), not pro­vid­ing suffi­cient re­sources, or sim­ply be­ing de­layed. To that end, we’re plan­ning to launch a pub­lic cash trans­fer pro­gram in the U.S., lev­er­ag­ing our ex­pe­rience with cash in dis­asters and con­tactless op­er­a­tions.

As some­one new to EA, it sounds like this goes against the prin­ci­ple of the dol­lar go­ing fur­ther over­seas. I as­sume that poorer coun­tries are already (or will be) sig­nifi­cantly im­pacted by the pan­demic vs. de­vel­oped coun­tries.

I brought this up to them via e-mail and this was their re­sponse.

We rec­og­nize that the need is im­mense globally, and will only grow over the com­ing months. We be­lieve cash re­lief can play an im­por­tant role in helping those most vuln­er­a­ble, both in the U.S. and el­se­where. Oper­a­tionally, the com­plex challenges we face to do this well (e.g. con­nect­ing peo­ple to a pay­ment grid with­out any in­ter­ac­tion) are more im­me­di­ately sur­mountable in the US. That said, we are ab­solutely pul­ling up plans that were already un­der­way (pre-Covid) to pi­lot re­mote en­rol­l­ment mod­els in East Africa. This could look like a phone-based ap­proach or part­ner­ing with tele­com com­pa­nies to fund digi­tal wallets in high poverty ar­eas with­out boots on the ground.

What are ev­ery­one’s thoughts on this and does this in­fluence your per­sonal dona­tion strat­egy?