|Update March 13th: vote for the finalists here|
We need your creative ideas to solve a problem: how to convince the world of the wisdom of giving directly. Will you submit to our proverb contest?
Hi, we need your creative ideas to solve a problem: how to convince the world of the wisdom of giving directly. Will you submit to our proverb contest?
We’ve tried to disabuse folks of this paternalistic idea by showing that often people in poverty know how to fish but cannot afford the boat. Or they don’t want to fish; they want to sell cassava. Also, we’re not giving fish; we’re giving money, and years after getting it, people were better able to feed themselves. Oh, and even if you do teach them skills, it can. be less effective than giving cash. Phew!
Yet, despite our efforts, the myth remains.
The one thing we haven’t tried: fighting proverb with (better) proverb. That’s where you come in. We’re crowdsourcing ideas that capture the dignity and logic of giving directly.
The best suggestions are not a slogan, but a saying — simple, concrete, evocative (e.g.). Submit your ideas by next Friday, March 3, and then we'll post the top 3 ideas on Twitter for people to vote on the winner.
The author of the winning adage will win a video call with a GiveDirectly staff member to learn more about our work one-on-one. Not feeling creative? Share with your friends who are.
As inspiration, here's a quote by Scottish stand-up comedian Frankie Boyle on how patronizing the teaching-to-fish idea is:
Strong disagree downvoted because:
This blame-the-west narrative may alienate people (and I don’t think it’s a great explanation for poverty, but that’s debatable but also not the main point)
This suggests the solution is simply ‘not doing harm/not getting involved’
When the UK outlawed slavery they compensated the slaveowners. It was a distasteful compromise, but [edit: contributed to] slavery being outlawed much sooner than in other countries (ex: in the US it took another 32y and a war). To fund these payments the UK government borrowed money, and paid it back slowly over time. Describing paying back the loans as "paying money to former slave owning families as compensation for their financial loss when slavery was banned" is very misleading.
I think that disengaging from developing countries would be a negative, at least if we include trade, services, tourism and immigration/remittances (not sure if that should count under 'not doing harm')
ODA is about $180 billion per year; about $50 billion to Africa link
Plus about 8 billion in private philanthropy per year
Africa's debt service payments are about $70 billion per year
If that debt was all forgiven it might do as much good as the ODA. So if 'not doing harm' means 'forgiving debt' you might be right. (But that is not what GiveDirectly is involved in.)
I'm not sure this is a good idea.
Why potentially reduce the effectiveness of those future interventions by launching this campaign?
What's wrong with the "People in poverty know how to fish but cannot afford the boat" that you used above? I think that's great.
"Give a man money for a boat, he already knows how to fish" would play off of the original formation!
I'm really excited to see what this competition produces!
Small suggestion - I think changing the prize/incentive would be good - I think non-altruistically motivated people who could produce good slogans might not find an educational video call a worthwhile prize. I personally wouldn't be motivated by this prize (and I think people on this forum likely won't be either, although they're obviously not a demographic which needs much incentive to help GD)
I Have to throw this in: my friend's response when I sent him the post this morning. "Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Video call a man and he’ll say “what the hell am I supposed to do with this??”"
"Not everyone wants to fish: give the dignity of choice" lacks a certain snappiness and isn't really a proverb but other than that I think I've smashed it
Alternative idea: we could try using memes?
As one idea:
Random thought, when thinking of cash transfers my mind sometimes jumps to George W. Bush's "Just send them cash" speech in response to the earthquakes in Haiti. It comes across as kind, pragmatic and urgent, and at the same time appreciative of people having the idea to do other things, like sending clothes or food.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give a man some cash, and he will teach himself how to fish.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give a man some cash, empower him for a lifetime.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give a man some cash, make his best dreams come true
Give a man some cash, put his wisdom before yours
A better proverb does sound helpful!
On how you've structured this, though, it would probably be a better fit for the forum if you indicated ideas in comments are also welcome? Advantages:
We can talk with each other about the relative merits of our ideas
Voting can give information about reception
A post with comments is more likely to elicit additional comments
Poverty is not having the means to climb out of poverty.
You can explain ladders to a man in a hole all you want, but until you give him one, he cannot climb out.
We give, therefore they can.
Not a submission to the contest, but years ago I supported an NGO in Kenya working with the Luo community.
The NGO was called Teach A Man To Fish.
The Luo are famously good at fishing.
The local Luo people didn't complain about the apparent condescension of working with an NGO called Teach A Man To Fish when they were actually very good at fishing.
They wanted the money they could get from the NGO!
I'm actually surprised you guys want to kill the "teach a man to fish" proverb.
The key message of the proverb seems to be that we should be increasing the capabilities of those in hardship so they can lift themselves out of hardship and be self-sufficient. I never read it as advocating for teaching skills specifically.
Furthermore my understanding is that increasing the capabilities of those in hardship so they can lift themselves out of hardship and be self-sufficient is GiveDirectly's goal. You guys don't want to give money to the same people for the rest of time do you?
Ok, my best idea is to highlight a Marxist theory of labor vs. capital at the small scale. I know this sounds very high brow but I think a distillation of it could work?
A man in a hole needs a ladder, not climbing skills?
Here are some attempts:
A rough formula for generating these might be this:
... (read more)
- Figure out the specific message/insight you want to convey. (The contest instructions l
Something along the lines of.... "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Give a woman some cash, and she'll pay for her kids' education and their fishing rods."
But, like, snappier.
Give a poor person a wish, and she will wish for money. You may think this will feed her for a day, but data shows it will feed her for a lifetime.
Any suggestions to improve this idea? :)
It´s no direct "kill", still:
Dear Lord, I know some billion people are hard working yet still can´t afford enough food or water. Please, please, please: Let this be a problem, which can be easily solved by a good teacher. I don´t want poverty to be a money-problem. I mean, if that´d be the case, I would still keep my money, I wouldn´t change my behaviour, but I´d feel bad about it. So nothing would change, except me feeling bad. As you are a good lord, you sure don´t want that, right? - Oh, and please: These people are waiting for this good teacher for some decades now. Would you ask Santa if he could give him a lift?
Give cash. Cos not everyone wants to eat fish.
Can we submit more than one idea per form or should we do a new form for each proverb suggestion?
I just want to write that I really appreciate how you've set this up.
I see a lot of EA essay contests that offer large cash prizes for the best essay. This strikes me as insane for a movement founded and based upon the principle that we should fund only the best interventions based on RCTs and good evidence. Where is the good evidence that essays are a cost-effective way of improving the world? Where is the justification for these huge cash prizes?
Winning a video call seems far more appropriate, in line with the potential work done / value created, and selects for submissions from people who care enough about GD (and are aligned enough) that they're actually interested in such a prize.
Not everyone wants fish. GiveDirectly
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime - if he can afford a fishing rod.
Using Givewell research it's not exactly easy to come up with a snappy proverb.
But I thought using a rhyming approach, you could build one. Preface a snappy rhyme with a factual sentence.
People don't spend our transfers on booze or cigs. They spend it on food, assets and to improve their earnings.
Add on 1, 2 or 3:
"A fishing rod is no use in the fields; seeds are no use at sea. But with cash, the fisher can buy a rod and the farmer can buy seeds."
Thansk for this. Right now, I just wanted to remark that I loved the prize here.
There've been many contests in the EAsphere awarding awesome financial prizes... while for many people here, I guess that being doing something great (and then receiving props for it) is incentive enough.
(Perhaps you should call this "innovative proverb maker of the year"
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll have to buy all of the lures, tackle, and rods you taught him how to use. #capitalism #25%offyour1storder #overfishing
Submitted my real suggestions through the form...
"Some poor people have plenty of fish. No poor people have plenty of money."
Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give him money and he can buy a fishing boat.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Give him money for a fishing net or a nice plow, that'll help more.
They know what they need. They just need some money for it.
Whoever lacks a dollar knows best how to use the next one.
Maybe simply add a question, like for a school essay:
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” If this were true, how many decades ago do you think would extreme poverty ended worldwide?
I already know how to fish, but I’m not quitting my job, because I want money. Do you want to take your salary in fish?
“ Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. ”
Forget fish. Just send cash.
Popular myth says "teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime".
But 200+ studies say "give a poor man cash, lift him out of poverty".
Let's stick to the research.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a year (maybe).
Give a poor man cash, lift him out of poverty.
Give directly to empower rather than to be in power
Give a man a fish, it may rot in transport. Teach a man to fish, he may have other more practical skills already. Give a man cash and he can buy whatever is most useful for himself and his family.
(The idea is to highlight key benefits of cash in a way that also maps plausibly onto the fishing example. I'm sure the wording and examples here could be improved; suggestions welcome!)
How do you evaluate whether or not the myth "remains"?
Teach a man to fish, they'll still starve in the jungle.
Money begets money
Or, and this is a bit more of a slogan:
If you want your money invested wisely, find the person who needs it the most.
Whatever you give a man know that you are just a tiny bit of his life. He is struggling with giants. Try to be the most helpful tiny bit you can, but manage expectations.
Instead of: "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime," I suggest:"Give a woman access to a farming ecosystem that supplies affordable, high quality produce"