Low-income families face constantly shifting needs, and are often forced into impossible trade-offs among basic necessities: visiting the hospital or paying rent; fixing the car or buying food. Unexpected shocks leave these families without stability, and unable to get their feet on the ground.
Existing social aid programs almost exclusively take the form of targeted aid, which is typically good at addressing one need at a time for low-income families, but consequently force them to navigate a huge web of bureaucracy to get the right form of help at the right time. Each additional program comes with its own set of requirements and associated paperwork, placing a large burden on precisely the families that can least afford it.
In kind, given the duplicative administrative costs of vetting over hundreds of hyper-targeted programs and the lack of empirical rigor in many of them, donors are rightly worried that their dollar may not be having the greatest impact possible.
Direct Giving Lab offers a more efficient way for donors to invest in their communities, while low income families receive more flexible aid with more dignity. The result is better social outcomes at a lower cost.
Our model relies on two mutually reinforcing pillars: a scalable implementation platform, and a companion research arm.
The implementation platform operates within local communities (e.g., township, county), and very simply takes money from donors and delivers checks to low-income households in the area.
The research arm partners with academic economists, and takes funding from foundations and governmental agencies to run randomized control trials, precisely establishing the benefits of cash transfers.
These two pieces promote each other in a virtuous cycle: the larger we build our platform, the more and more statistically powerful experiments we can run, giving us increasingly strong evidence to show to donors, allowing us to continue to scale our platform.
Our Initial Pilot
Our first pilot has been active since May 2017. The pilot serves 20 low-income families in Moraine Township, IL. For 12 months, each family receives $100/month as a cash check.
We selected our initial pilot location, Moraine Township, IL, for its economic diversity and connections to DGL’s founders. We identified our first 20 families in partnership with College Bound Opportunities, a local non-profit.
By the end of the pilot, we will have given away $24,000, no strings attached.
We have two major elements to our 2018 strategy.
First, we are fundraising to expand operations in Moraine Township. Throughout 2018, we are raising money to enroll a second group of families in DGL, with a target of 50 families (costing ~$60,000). We will be working with the local government in Moraine Township to help identify this set of families. You can donate at any time here.
Second, we are partnered with The University of Chicago Urban Labs to run a randomized control trial in the city of Chicago. We will be soliciting grants from charitable foundations to fund 200 families, aiming to boost college enrollment and acceptance. Urban Labs will work to pair us with an academic researcher, so that we can measure the results and produce usable knowledge for other cash transfer programs. You can contact us about funding this research at firstname.lastname@example.org.