BRAC Launches An Innovative Approach to Giving

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Think of all the things you’ve bought and then said, “I didn’t need that…” BRAC, the largest non-profit group in the developing world, has just launched a bold new campaign and online community that celebrates “not buying,” and shows the value of investing in the poor.

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BRAC, the largest non-profit group in the developing world, has just launched a bold new campaign and online community that celebrates “not buying,” and shows the value of investing in the poor.

BRAC launched What I Did Not Buy ( – an online community where people choose “not to buy” and see the impact of that re-directed money on poor people BRAC helps in the developing world.

“Imagine if you didn’t buy those $200 boots, you could provide two years of education for a girl who dropped out of school or was never given a chance to go in the first place. An extra year of primary school boosts her overall wages buy 10-20%(i). If she gets seven years of education, she’ll marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children(ii)," said Jennifer Buffett, President of the NoVo Foundation. “By not buying those boots, you could give a girl in one of the most important tools she needs to create a pathway out of poverty for herself, her family and her community.”

Simple, elegant, and effective, What I Did Not Buy is a way to celebrate what has not been bought and to display the impact of giving.

The Big Picture numbers about how much people in the Western World consume is startling. Consider these numbers:

What We Buy     What It Costs(iii)     What We Could Give                                          What It Costs(iv)
Cosmetics             $18 billion              Elimination of hunger and malnutrition          $19 billion
Ocean cruises     $14 billion              Clean drinking water for all                          $10 billion
Perfumes             $15 billion              Reproductive health for all women          $12 billion
Pet food in             $17 billion             Universal literacy                                             $5 billion
Europe and the
United States

“Now translate consumption statistics into what it means at an individual level,” said Susan Davis, President & CEO of BRAC USA. “If you didn’t buy a $50 scarf, you could provide a loan for a girl to start her own business and bring in extra income to pay for school supplies and support her family.”

Wharton Professor and Economist Joel Waldfogel, author of the new book Scroogenomics, said that “we spend $145 billion per year worldwide on holiday gifts that, because they are poorly chosen, produce $25 billion less in satisfaction than this level of spending would normally create. Against this backdrop of waste, many good causes go begging. BRAC's What I Did Not Buy site offers a constructive alternative for diverting resources from economic oblivion to worthy uses. BRAC's What I Did Not Buy site can help us achieve happy - and efficient - holidays.”

“By not buying a $100 digital camera, you could provide supplies to one of BRAC’s community health promoters, who is trained to provide basic health information and health services, including pre-natal and ante-natal care, helping pregnant women in her community avoid the number one killer of women in the developing world: child birth,” said Sajeda Amin, a Population Council researcher and member of BRAC’s Advisory Council. “Each of these women provides these live-saving services to as many as 1,000 men, women and children in her community every month. By not buying that digital camera, you could provide 1,000 people with access to life-saving health services.”

This holiday season, BRAC invites people to see what their commitment to NOT buy can do by going to and entering the name and price of the item they will not buy. “Opt to save lives and increase incomes,” said Ms. Davis.

About BRAC
BRAC, the largest non-profit in the developing world, was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and currently touches the lives of more than 110 million people through its programs addressing poverty including micro-loans, education, health services, self-employment opportunities and human rights education. BRAC’s vision is to improve the health, wealth and well being of millions of the poorest families primarily in Asia and Africa. BRAC has provided $5.5 billion in micro-loans to nearly seven million borrowers, mostly women, and created 8.5 million self-employment opportunities. BRAC’s 80,000 community health promoters have provided basic health services to nearly 100 million people. Currently, BRAC has programs in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Southern Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. To learn more about BRAC, please visit


i. George Psacharopoulos and Harry Anthony Patrinos, “Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update,” Policy Research Working Paper 2881, Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2002.
ii. United Nations Population Fund, State of World Population 1990.
iii. World Watch Institute. “State of the World 2004.”
iv. World Watch Institute. “State of the World 2004.”


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