At Christianity Today, they’re thinking about charitable Christmas giving and asking whether it really helps.
This is an increasingly common Christmas present—to make a donation to a poor family in a developing country in the name of a loved one. Increasingly, organizations such as the Heifer Project, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Kiva, and other charitable organizations send out gift catalogs and online promotions with a bounty of attractive Christmas gifts to choose from: a pig for a family in Nepal, a microfinance gift certificate for a budding entrepreneur in El Salvador, a freshwater well in Ethiopia.
With so many options available, the obvious question is: Which gifts have the biggest positive impact for the poor? This is a question that interests me not just as a Christian but as a development economist. Do these donations really make a difference, and if so what kind of difference?