Friday, December 09, 2011

money > cans

Interesting research from Matt Yglesias shows that food pantries and charities get much more value out of donations of cash than of canned food. Essentially, charities have cut deals with supermarkets to score food for pennies on the dollar:
All across America, charitable organizations and the food industry have set up mechanisms through which emergency food providers can get their hands on surplus food for a nominal handling charge. Katherina Rosqueta, executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that food providers can get what they need for “pennies on the dollar.” She estimates that they pay about 10 cents a pound for food that would cost you $2 per pound retail.

Beyond the better pricing, Yglesias points out that sorting cans involves a lot more work and space than depositing a check, and the charity can use the check to buy things they know the families will actually like and know how to prepare. Plus, hey, you can document your donations for tax purposes much more easily if you wrote a check.

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