EVALUATION: Major Problems with the “Christmas Gifts” Aid Program

Lack of Rigorous Methodology: Regrettably, this evaluation had to proceed without the required Randomized Controlled Trial on Christmas Gifts, which failed to be completed as planned. Project managers did a poor job explaining the advantages of RCT participation to the Control Group. Lack of Targeting: The Christmas Gifts aid program was not sufficiently well-targeted to the poor.  Recipients of Christmas Gifts indiscriminately included well-off regions, groups, genders, and individuals.

Lack of Efficient Modalities: The Christmas Gifts appeared to consist largely of in-kind aid.  This contradicts abundant evidence of best practices emphasizing cash transfers as superior to in-kind aid. There was some evidence of #SWEDOW (“Stuff We Don’t Want”) in-kind transfers, the worst possible kind of aid, usually involving fruitcakes.

Lack of Efficient Timing: Contrary to the recommendation that aid consist of an even, predictable flow, the Christmas Gifts program is mostly concentrated on one day, with a few unpredictable lags ranging from a few days (“late deliveries”) to months (“handmade gifts”).

Lack of Net Flows:  Evaluators found Christmas Gift recipients engaged in behavior that frustrated the aid program, with Recipients acting as Donors to their own Donors, reducing their own net aid intake. They explained their counterproductive behavior with non-standard concepts such as “Tis more bless’d to give than to receive.”

Merry Christmas

from the  NYU Development Research Institute

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