Giving Tuesday is this Tuesday, December 2nd. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my picks for Giving Tuesday, separated into two groups; safe picks and speculative gifts. As the grouping names suggest, “safe picks” are gifts to organizations that I feel confident deliver effective interventions. The second group, “speculative gifts”, are organizations I’m supporting but whose interventions/execution I’m not as confident in.

Safe picks

  • GiveDirectly - GiveDirectly provides unconditional cash transfers to those living in extreme poverty. I frequently write about GiveDirectly because I believe both in the intervention and their data driven philosophy. If you care about extreme poverty and believe people should be empowered with capital to lift themselves out of poverty, this is by far the best way you can spend your donated dollars.
  • Family Independence Initiative - I work at the Family Independence Initiative (FII), so I’m obviously biased. Of course, I joined FII because I believe in their approach of investing in the poor directly. If you care about U.S. domestic poverty, and are especially interested in the empowerment aspect of democratizing access to capital, then FII is a solid choice.
  • Housing first - Housing first is not an organization, rather it’s an approach to homelessness that argues it is cheaper to place people into housing first, and then provide supportive services, rather than to try to “treat” people living on the streets. There are a lot of organizations taking a housing first approach throughout the U.S. (and other countries as well). If you care about chronic homelessness, find an organization committed to housing first in an area you care about. Here in Los Angeles, I recommend People Assisting the Homeless.

Speculative gifts

  • Team Tassy - Team Tassy helps prepare and place people in Haiti into jobs. This is an admittedly bias recommendation, as the executive director there is a graduate school friend of mine and I’ve worked with Team Tassy on their outcomes measurement framework. The organization is in relative infancy being only a few years along, but they’ve gained the trust of the families they work with in Menelas, and have embraced a data driven approach that I believe is the bedrock for effective interventions. If you care about Haiti, a country that has lost its fundraising luster long after the 2010 earthquake, and you are looking for a speculative gift to a small nonprofit with unrealized potential, I definitely recommend Team Tassy.
  • LivelyHoods - LivelyHoods provides products to youth living in impoverished communities in Kenya and trains the youth to sell the products. LivelyHoods is better than most organizations at consistently reporting key performance indicators on their blog, which wins them a lot of points in my book. I also like the concept of the model, as the purpose of the intervention is to spark economic activity rather than a purely charitable approach. I think there are legitimate questions about the efficacy of both this model and of LivelyHoods itself. I’m also interested in how this approach compares to an unconditional cash transfer. That said, if you care about impoverished Kenyan youth, buy-in to the model, and are looking to add a speculative gift to your portfolio, I think LivelyHoods is a worthwhile bet.