You Reading This Could Save a Life.

In 2011, this young boy from Orissa, India received a mosquito net from AMF capable of protecting him from malaria.

In 2011, this young boy from Orissa, India received a mosquito net from AMF capable of protecting him from malaria.

I just read something that’s blowing my mind right now. There’s an organization called GiveWell – maybe you’ve heard of them – that evaluates charities and attempts to calculate their cost-effectiveness. They estimate that $3,500 given to the charity Against Malaria Foundation is likely to save the life of one child under the age of 5.[1] Think about that.

We have a lot to be thankful for. Yes, most of us reading this have opportunities the vast majority of people in the world will never have. But think more basic than that. We’re alive. We’re breathing. Do you ever stop to savor that?

Numerous studies on gratitude have shown that thankful people are happier people, more fulfilled people.[2] Unsurprisingly, there is also a correlation between gratitude and giving. One 2016 study states that “grateful individuals perform charitable behaviors as a more agapic action toward another rather than a social exchange.” [3]

The word agapic has two meanings. The first refers to a mouth-wide-open sense of awe and wonder. The second, according to Google, is “Christian love”.[4]

Gratitude leads to a kind of wonder conducive to charity and to love. But what is Christian love? I’ve always been amazed by how Saint Augustine is respected by so many denominations. For some reason, his writings unite us Christian believers. For Augustine, love will inevitably lead us to help the poor. He is often quoted as writing, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”[5]

I study economics and global health at Duke University, and the more I learn about the world, the more encouraged I am by the opportunities we all have to help the poor. Truly, Christian love towards the poor is becoming more accessible in our age of information. It’s easier to help now than ever before.

Simple Charity is currently in our Vitality theme. Motivated by love and fueled by gratitude, we want to raise money to save lives. Actually, I should say, we are saving lives. Literally. Currently, we’re doing a campaign called #GiveFivesSaveLives where we want to convince as many people as we can to give $5 to Against Malaria Foundation and Just One Africa before the end of November. If you’re as skeptical as I am, you might be asking: how can we know for sure that giving to these organizations will save lives? This is one of the main questions I’m trying to answer through my studies at Duke. Please, let me briefly explain why I trust these two non-profits.

Against Malaria Foundation

AMF Logo

AMF is one of the most rigorously evaluated charities on the planet. They provide long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets to poor households so that families can be protected from malaria, an intervention that has been proven to reduce the incidence of the deadly disease. In their book, “Poor Economics”, two MIT economists estimate that a $14 investment in one bed net for one child will lead to an average return of $88 of increased income per year for that child’s entire adult life.[6] Why is this? Being sick makes people less productive. And when children get sick, they can be setback developmentally, kept out of school frequently, or even die.

The two MIT economists, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, use $14 as the cost per mosquito net in their book. GiveWell estimates that Against Malaria Foundation can get people nets for as little as $4.47 per net.[7] This includes transportation, fundraising, and administrative costs. GiveWell also answers questions about AMF like: Do these nets reach their intended location? Do people use the nets? And would the recipients have received nets from other sources if not from AMF? Their honest and thorough answers to these questions can be found here. The answers come from rigorous evaluations, the result of changing norms in the non-profit industry towards more transparency and measured results. As I said earlier, using some fancy statistics and intuitive estimates, GiveWell suggests that $3,500 of donations to AMF will save the life of one child under the age of 5.

To give to Against Malaria Foundation, please click here.

Just One Africa


Those same two MIT economists say that there are other “highly effective health investments” in addition to providing bed nets that can help the poor and save lives. They point to providing “access to clean water and sanitation” as another incredible intervention.[8] Every year, 9 million children die before their fifth birthdays, and the vast majority of these are poor children in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. One out of every five of these deaths is caused by diarrhea, a result of lack of access to clean water.[9] As with malaria, diarrhea doesn’t just kill; repeated bouts can also stifle a child’s future productivity and quality of life by permanently harming physical and cognitive development.[10]

Here's a picture from my summer in Kenya of ten households in a rural Masai village receiving water filters.

Here’s a picture from my summer in Kenya. These ten filters will provide clean water to households in this rural Masai village.

I spent 10 weeks this past summer in Kimana, Kenya working with Just One Africa’s team to provide household water filters to the rural poor. I’ve riden a motorbike over bumpy dirt roads to help collect follow-up data on these filters. I’ve seen the data and conducted rudimentary analyses on how the filters have decreased the incidence of diarrhea and household spending on healthcare. I’ve heard parent after parent thank me and the Just One team, speaking of how they don’t have to worry about their drinking water making their children sick anymore. I can’t point to a cost-effectiveness analysis for Just One, but I know through relationships that I can trust their leadership both in Kenya and America. Why? Because the organization is run by people who love God and love their neighbor, by people who genuinely care and have the passion and common sense to do good well.

To give to Just One Africa, please click here. For more info about Just One, check out their beautiful website.

Give Fives Save Lives 2k16

In this time of Thanksgiving, let’s express gratitude through charity, through agapic action. Please consider taking 5 minutes out of your day to give $5 or more to Against Malaria Foundation or Just One Africa. Your donation is likely to help save lives. Then, please be willing to share the link to this blog on social media or email/text five friends and family members with it.

For most people, sharing the campaign is harder than giving. But by sharing, you will have an exponential impact. We have ten days until the end of our Vitality theme and this campaign. If one person gives $5 and asks five friends to give today, and five people give $5 tomorrow, and 25 give $5 on day three, and so on, we would collectively raise $12,207,030 for these causes in ten days. Using GiveWell’s estimate for AMF, that money could save 3,487 children. How awesome would that be! Do you think that’s kind of unreasonable? Well, it only is if you, the person reading this, don’t invest 5 minutes and 5 dollars right now to make it happen. If you’re going to give and share, do it today; don’t put it off. The success of this campaign is in your hands.

One last thing, if you share this blog online, use #GFSL2k16 so that we can watch the goodness spread. Let’s not make this Thanksgiving about all we have received. During this season of gratitude, let’s seek out the poor and needy. Let’s see misery and want. Let’s hear the sighs and sorrows of children. And let’s respond with gratefulness for what we have, and love for those who have not.

– Brian Grasso


“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:16-18





[3], Source: Pitt, L., Keating, S., Bruwer, L., Murgolo-Poore, M., & de Bussy, N. (2001). Charitable donations as social exchange or agapic action on the internet: The case of Journal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing, 9(4), 47–61.

[4] Just Google “agapic definition”.


[6] Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (PublicAffairs, 2012), 45.


[8]  Banerjee and Duflo, Poor Economics, 45.

[9] Ibid., 42.

[10] Ibid, 46.

What have SC students been doing to raise money for these causes? Check out this video from an event at our UGA chapter!

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