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maximize your ROI on social investment

One of the concepts I often explore is how one most positively impacts the world given their scarce amount of personal resources. If you’ve read any past posts, you’ve noted that I’ve downplayed domestic policies’ importance, and stressed more abject suffering abroad.

The death toll in Myanmar numbers in the tens of thousands, and will likely take many more lives in the future due to famine and disease. If you have no problem supporting relatively-well off Americans, I’d ask you to consider donating to disaster relief. Outside the incredible need in the devastated area, disaster relief is also more likely to make a positive impact than money spent in social programs, because it’s much easier and cheaper to solve the problem of not having a roof with short-term assistance, than it is to fix behavioral problems through long-term subsidization of sub-standard living. Assistance following a disaster should be considered preventative care, to ward off the harbingers of disease and famine that accompany such destruction. Workable land and drinkable water are worthy, doable aims.

Bottom line, your dollar goes a lot farther to people who need it a lot more. Of course, this immense amount of suffering only underscores the despicable depth to which Myanmar’s military regime has sunk. Even France wants to trample on their sovereignty… but alas, we wait on the UN for the OK. I wish we could see statistics for death by red tape.

You can do a small part, by donating to the Buddhist Relief Mission, which works in the area. The question with these organizations is always whether the money is actually being directed to the intended cause. I suggest the Buddhist Relief Mission based on the recommendation of Yale economic development professor Chris Blattman.

Blattman has ties to the area, namely friends who run a community program for Burmese refugees in Thailand, and they recommend the Buddhist Relief Mission. Blattman also points to a list of international aid agencies in the NY Times, if you want to play it safe.


Filed under: Misc

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