How do I know that my donation will not be misused?
Each family has been vetted by our Lebanon-based partner Al Majmoua who knows them individually for having provided them microcredit loans in the past. These families have been plunged in abject poverty and Al Majmoua has confirmed their situation. Al Majmoua is a trusted partner of many donors, including USAID and IFC, and have been operating in Lebanon since 1994. See more details in About Us.
Note that cash assistance is provided unconditionally and the families have the freedom to choose how best to use it.
If I am interested but there are no more families available, what do I do?
Please let us know and we'll contact you when a new pool of families is available.
The pilot is designed to assess demand from donors and to test the entire demand-supply chain. We will be very pleased if there are more participants donors than candidate families during this phase, validating one of our success criteria. When the current pool of families has been supported, we intend to add a new pool. In the meantime, willing donors will be added to a waiting list and will be contacted when the new pool is available.
I would like to give a larger donation, how do I do it?
For simplicity of the pilot, we are restricting the pilot to $200/month for 6 months. We will evolve the model in the future to accommodate larger commitments. Please add your request to the donors survey to notify us of your intent.
Can I make a one-time donation of $200, or a recurrent donation of less than $200?
The minimum commitment is for six months to sustain a family while they figure out how to land on their feet.
We are considering pooling multiple small donations to total $200 at a later stage. If this is of interest to you, please let us know.
Is $200/month enough?
We have worked with our field partner Al-Majmoua to specifically assess the needs and to ensure meeting them while not putting an unduly large burden on the donors. This monthly amount has been recommended by Al Majmoua and validated by comparison to other programs. Additional details are on the Why? page
What is the 15% fee paying for?
The assessed fees cover the cost of vetting families, safely and expediently transfering the money to Lebanon, and distributing it to the families in USD bills. Various vehicles and models have been assessed and studied to reduce the overhead without compromising the mission of the initiative, while achieving efficiencies for expanding in the future to large pools of donors and families, and in a sustainable way. Please visit the How it Works for a detailed breakdown.
Can multiple donors fund the same family?
For the pilot, only one donor will be accepted per family. We may revise this in the future.
What happens to the family after six months?
This program intends to help families transition to become economically self-reliant. We are considering several options, one of them is to graduate the families into micro-enterprises. We will develop this aspect after the completion of the successful pilot.
Why give cash instead of paying directly for schools, medication, etc?
This is a very valid question. Research shows that unconditional cash aid is very efficient and effective. Unconditional cash assistance also gives families the freedom of choice to prioritize their own needs while also maintaining a level of dignity. Last, it is a scalable modality that allows us to expand the pool of donors to the world on a peer-to-peer basis.
See research references on the Why? page.
How can I be assured that this is not a revolving door for Al Majmoua to ensure families pay back their outstanding loans and not use the money freely for their needs?
Although some of the families listed had already closed their microcredit loans with Al Majmoua, the majority have not been able to pay theirs back due to deteriorating conditions. Because this is a pilot and for expediency’s sake to start with a solid and vetted group of needy families, we felt that Al Majmoua was very familiar with the conditions of such families and would provide us with a reliable list: their selection was based on the credibility of the families’ difficult financial situations and not because of their outstanding loans.
As the program scales up, we will surely on-board families that are not Al Majmoua microcredit clients. One of the major tenets of this program is NOT to dictate to families how and where funds should be spent and Al Majmoua signed up to support these goals. It is conceivable that a family decides to leverage the favorable exchange rates ( $ to LBP) and use some of the money to pay back its loans to Al Majmoua, banks, or even loan sharks but that is not something we will monitor, enforce, nor discourage and families will always have full discretion.
Have you thought about displaying photos of the families?
We have debated this at length and taken advice from leading aid agencies. We are aware that photos might humanize the profiles, promote empathy, and increase donor conversion. We even secured authorization from families to display their photos.
However, we decided NOT to use the photos to protect the dignity of the families, and put their interest above all else. There is a famous saying in aid circles: “when helping the ‘poor’, leave your camera at home". Families are likely to authorize the publishing of their photos due to unequal power dynamics with donors, so we will err on the side of protecting their privacy.
Why is this a pilot?
Like any unprecedented vision and initiative, the devil is in the details. Creating a system that allows worldwide donors to send "Fresh Dollars" to Lebanon safely and on a regular basis to a large pool of families in needs, raise many questions and require solving many logistical, operational, financials and resources questions, hence the pilot. We are approaching the pilot as a learning phase to assess several success criteria, and to prepare for a larger scale deployment.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Not at this time, as we have not formed a separate legal entity in the US to enable tax benefits for donors in the US. Please consult your tax advisor for more details.