In a 2012 Christianity Today article, “Cost-Effective Compassion,” economist Bruce Wydick laid out what his research suggested were the best use of funds for the poor. In order of effectiveness the top five are as follows:
- Provide clean water to rural villages.
- Fund de-worming treatments for children.
- Provide mosquito nets.
- Sponsor a child.
- Give wood-burning stoves.
Wydick concluded, “Whether one chooses to give money or work with the poor directly, what is important is to care enough about the poor to understand the effect of actions we take on their behalf.”
Caring and Understanding
Caring and understanding are at the heart of Dr. Timothy Warren’s advice. The senior professor of Pastoral Ministries had this to say on the topic: “Giving wisely results from relationship. I give to the individuals and organizations with whom I have some level of relationship. The better I know people, the closer I am to their values, and the more I share their mission, the more likely I am to give.
“The opposite of that is that I don’t give to individuals or organizations with whom I have no relationship. If I don’t have some knowledge of their trustworthiness, there’s no chance I will contribute. For example, if people on the street ask me for money for food or a bus ride home, I will give only when I walk into a restaurant with them, or watch as they get on the bus. Otherwise, I don’t trust that my gift will be used as implied.
“The same is true of organizations. I have to trust their stewardship. If they are unwise in their spending, I will have been unwise in my giving. What really makes giving joyful and easy is when people I trust let me know what they need for a cause I fully support. Then I give wisely—out of that relationship.”