A standard thing we teach our students is that it’s more efficient to give money to people than to give stuff. Here’s a beautiful statement of the point by Alanna Shaikh, a global health professional. An excerpt:

Donating stuff instead of money is a serious problem in emergency relief. Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary; those of us in the rest of the world can only guess. Some things, like summer clothes and expired medicines are going to be worthless in Haiti. Other stuff, like warm clothes and bottled water may be helpful to some people in some specific ways. Separating the useful from the useless takes manpower that can be doing more important work. It’s far better to give money so that organizations can buy the things they know they need.

Her post has a great title: Nobody Wants Your Old Shoes.

Of course, the same principle applies to thinks like health care, education, and housing. Hmmm.

HT to Art Carden.