"You cannot feed the hungry on statistics." - Heinrich Heine

One of the most important questions in philanthropy, yet one of the least asked ones, is the one of efficacy.

Have the philanthropy efforts yielded results? In other words, how effective is your philanthropy programme in improving the lives of the beneficiaries?

It is understandable why this question is rarely asked, or if asked, politely sidestepped by many. The reason is simple. It is a difficult question. One with many variables involved in the complex issue of poverty, with manifestations of the results years down the road.

Sure, some may answer that a certain amount of dollars has been spent to provide primary education for a certain amount of children. But ask how these dollars translate to real gains in poverty alleviation and the answer is no longer apparent.

Here at Global Causeways, we do not shy away from difficult questions. We do not measure gains by signing a cheque, or ticking off a checklist.

 
Village HutWe measure our recipients’ poverty levels before our intervention, and for years after, so that we can chart their progress. We monitor scientific literature for new ideas in poverty alleviation. We study the theories, we use evaluation techniques appropriate to the intervention, and we investigate the relationship between our intervention and poverty levels.

But most importantly, we know that science is just an aid to discovery. And discovery is best served by asking the villagers what went wrong, what was done right, and how we can continue to better their lives.