Award Fatigue?

September 3, 2013

Cash Only Please

Philanthropy Today, The New York Times and NPR all featured GiveDirectly last week, talking up the cost-effectiveness of direct cash transfers to individuals in developing countries.  Costs plummet when you cut out the entire development assistance infrastructure of projects, programs, staff and consultants – not to mention the fund-raising structures to support them.  Development is complex, however, and we’re uneasy about attributing success to the cash when it is so difficult to “match” recipients with other individuals who don’t receive funds. But trusting people to know what to do with their money shows real respect, and that’s something money can’t buy.    

You Will Never Text and Drive Again

Werner Herzog, the quirky and prolific director, teamed up with the major cell phone providers in the U.S. to create a 30-minute documentary about the perils of texting while driving called “From One Second To The Next.” Possibly one of the most disturbing driver’s ed PSAs ever, sez Grantland, it captures the stories of victims and offenders. We know films can make a difference – just check out how often Members of Congress mention The Invisible War.  Will this piece actually reduce the number of car accidents due to cell phone usage?  You can watch the entire documentary here.

No More Prizes?

Contests and prizes have a certain appeal in the social sector but are they doing more harm than good? The answer as outlined in this Stanford Social Innovation Review blog post, like all things evaluation, is complex. The post argues that prizes take a lot of effort and time away from the work of non-profit contestants without offering enough likely benefit.  The author suggests this: “All prizes must come with a cash award that is at least 20 times the cost of the accompanying award ceremony/dinner.”  We like it.