Interest keeps growing among funders in the idea of fighting global poverty by making direct cash transfers to poor households and letting the recipients spend that money as they see fit. And nowhere is this interest stronger than in Silicon Valley, where GiveDirectly—the lead nonprofit promoting cash transfers—has found some powerful allies.
As we’ve reported before, tech funders backing the group include Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Jacquelline Fuller of Google.org. But its biggest backers by far are Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna, who have given over $47 million to the group since 2012.
It’s not surprising that GiveDirectly would do well in Silicon Valley, since the group seeks to bypass the middlemen—e.g., international aid agencies and NGOs—that now play a central role in global anti-poverty efforts. Such disintermediation has long been the bread and butter of a tech world that loves to put long dominant institutions out of business.
Can international aid groups meet the same fate as, say, travel agencies? It’s too early to say, but that prospect is stirring quite a bit of interest. Meanwhile, as we’ve also reported, more tech funders are gravitating to the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) as a possible solution to growing inequality in the developed world.