If you’ve bought into giving cash to the poor, this should be your next move

…we propose that donor governments create a fund devoted exclusively to supporting cash transfer programs. The fund would accept competitive applications from organizations—both private and social sector—that wish to conduct transfers. It should give priority to organizations with a demonstrated track record on a set of well-defined metrics, such as cost, speed, and targeting accuracy. And it should prioritize organizations that propose to conduct randomized impact evaluations of cash transfers—and especially evaluations that would fill a gap in our understanding about their impact, inform the design of such programs, or allow us to better compare alternative interventions with simply giving cash.

Such a fund would have two effects. For organizations that already deliver cash transfers, it would incentivize further investment in improving their systems as they compete for grants. And for organizations and individual decision-makers on the fence, uncertain about the role of cash transfers in their field, the fund would significantly reduce the cost of experimentation.

That is Michael Faye, Paul Niehaus, and me in Foreign Affairs, looking back a year later at our 2014 article, Show Them the Money, and what has changed in the cash transfer discussion.

15 thoughts on “If you’ve bought into giving cash to the poor, this should be your next move

  1. At some point we all agree that giving free money to people make them lazy. Although I fully appreciate the logic of Cash Transfers to poor population, I suggest we don’t overdo it and think of other and better ways to reach our goal.

  2. In the model you propose, wouldn’t the fund create further confusion and fragmentation? Also, how would it ensure sustainability of the programmes over time? Why not use the fund to provide budget support to countries to scale up/improve effectiveness of cash transfer programmes; the delivery could of course be done in partnership with civil society and private sector, through social contracting for instance. This way, instead of a supra-actor deciding for each context, the process would be subject to public scrutiny and national accountability mechanisms, just like all other public resources in the social sector,