Charities: Many charities don’t give away money directly. Instead, they offer books, medicine or training. This is partly because governments and philanthropists emphasize long-term economic solutions over short-term urgent needs. As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” But what if he doesn’t have a fishing rod? Or bait? Or even a river? Are there times when it is okay to give a fish?
Transfers: After Mexico’s economic crisis in the 1990s, a government economist suggested replacing the milk and tortilla subsidies program with a one that gave direct money to the very poor, as long as their kids attended school and regular health checkups. Officials worried the discretionary money would lead to domestic arguments or alcohol consumption, but the results were promising—kids were more likely to attend class and families were less likely to get sick. Some people even made investments. .
Giving: GiveDirectly is a new charity that gives money to poor people without any preconditions. In March, it transferred $1,000—a family’s average annual income—to each of the poorest families in one Kenyan village. Although official results are not expected until later this year , reporter Jacob Goldstein visited the village and found encouraging outcomes. One man started a taxi business and multiplied his daily income from $2 to $6-9. “At its most basic level,” reported Goldstein, “GiveDirectly’s work is an attempt to test one of the simplest ideas in economics—that people know what they need and, if they have the money, they can buy it. Taken to its logical conclusion, this suggests that giving away money may often be more helpful to people than giving them cows or medicine or training or whatever” .
Prayer: Lord, Everything we have is yours and we long to steward it wisely. That is why we often give to organizations that invest in long-term sustainability. Yet we recognize that not everyone can benefit from these types of programs. Some will not qualify for loans because they live in places with underdeveloped financial systems or bad infrastructure. You teach us, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” . Make us, therefore, cheerful givers—whether we teach a man to fish or give him one to eat. Amen.
M’Cheyne: Weekend Readings
 Jacob Goldstein. “Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached?” The New York Times. August 13, 2013. |  Give Well. “GiveDirectly Update – May 2013.” Published June 2013. |  Jacob Goldstein. “Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached?” The New York Times. August 13, 2013.
 2 Corinthians 11:7 ESV