After Watching This, I May Never Donate To Another Global Aid Foundation Again


SF Globe believes that people are generous of spirit. As a population, we like spending a little more for a pair of TOMS shoes, knowing that a child in Africa will get one for free. It gives us a warm feeling when we wrap up our gently used clothing to be donated to to a poor community overseas. The makers of Poverty Inc. do not question our spirit, only the methods. With all of the best intentions, some forms of global aid end up stunting the growth of these struggling nations.

Studies have linked donations of free or highly subsidized used and new garments to the decline in the apparel manufacturing industry and an overall 50% decline in employment. There have also been criticism that while TOMS claims to reduce incidents of infection by parasites by donating shoes, more good could be done if the same money was applied to improving infrastructure for clean latrines and plumbing. Giving away a pair of shoes or an old tee-shirt is a band-aid for the symptom, and not a path to a solution.

To be fair, the TOMS model, while not perfect, does have legitimate benefits. Some who may not otherwise donate funds to a relief foundation might purchase TOMS shoes for the brand recognition. They also have a similar program for their sunglasses, but instead of giving away a pair of sunglasses, they fund eye care and medical examinations. Moreover, not all forms of aid is harmful. Good ways to support developing countries would be to purchase good made there and sold at Fair Trade prices, or to donate to programs that provide job training and infrastructure.

As the old adage states: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

What do you think of this upcoming documentary? If you know of any good companies to support?