GIK and development programming

In our ongoing series on Gifts-in-kind (GIK), today’s post covers how GIK resource fits into the broader work of community development programming. Specifically we’ll look at:

  • Uses of GIK, including as match for grants
  • Standards for managing GIK
  • Evaluations of projects with direct provision of goods

Uses of GIK

World Vision operates in nearly 100 countries with 1,600 development programs and 1,200 sector projects that integrate education, health, economic development, advocacy, microfinance, agriculture, and water and sanitation. Our programs go through intensive assessments and planning, beginning with a country macro-assessment and strategy and continuing with local area assessments, a comprehensive design document, baseline survey, and regular audits and evaluations. These steps follow World Vision’s design, monitoring, and evaluation (DME) methodology and tools, which are all available online.

Program assessments and designs lead to planning processes that include a detailed budget and plan for procuring resources necessary to achieve project or program outcomes.  In this phase, each project and program can request GIK that may be used in one of the following ways:

  • To contribute to program or project objectives based on detailed assessments and planning
  • As pre-positioned product for disaster preparedness (small and large disaster response)
  • Assistance of the most vulnerable, particularly child-headed households and people living with HIV and AIDS

The products procured typically support the areas of health, education, or basic needs. We will address examples of each below.


World Vision aligns its health-related GIK donations with our global health strategy, focused on seven key health interventions for mothers, and eleven key interventions for children under two years old. World Vision’s 7-11 Field Guide includes guidance on using GIK to address initial gaps in health services (pp. 94-98) as World Vision works to strengthen health systems.

For instance, GIK is used to support Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programs. These programs provide access to services allowing children to be treated at home rather than through inpatient care. Community volunteers screen and refer children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to the program site. If the children require treatment, they are admitted and treated with routine drugs and ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). Children are monitored at the clinic weekly for a minimum of two months, receiving medicine and RUTF until they have recovered. GIK donations of 17 different pharmaceuticals and medical supply products such as Amoxicillin, vitamin A, MUAC (Mid Upper Arm Circumference) tapes, and scales support this program annually in 11 African countries.

GIK provides additional support to rural clinics, replenishing resources needed to treat common illnesses and injuries. When rural clinics run out of these basic supplies, the lives of the people in the communities we serve are negatively impacted. GIK is provided to support these clinics with key items, focusing on our 7 – 11 strategy. In the last year, packages containing 33 of the most needed pharmaceuticals and medical supplies were sent to eleven African countries. Additionally, World Vision U.S. supports deworming programs in six countries, and ships basic medical supplies in support of the 7-11 strategy worldwide.

GIK also supports community-based care models. In Zambia, a five-year grant included four strategic objectives to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV and AIDS through expansion of community-based models of home-based care, support to orphans and vulnerable children, and interventions targeting youth with livelihood opportunities.  In this program, community members were provided with kits of supplies (Caregiver Kits) to provide home-based care. Having needed supplies and training allowed volunteer caregivers to reduce the stigma of the disease, increase HIV testing, and improve pyscho-social support to clients.


Just as in health, World Vision’s global education strategy provides the roadmap for programs and resources associated with education. New school supplies, bags, clothing, and books for school libraries and supplemental training aids are provided in some programs as a way of helping vulnerable children attend school.  n evaluation of a child labor prevention program in the Philippines acknowledged that, when distributed properly, school supplies and clothing can decrease discrimination (p. 38) against vulnerable children and provide an incentive for starting school. This activity complements World Vision’s longer-term work with teacher training, curriculum development, advocacy, and economic development.

In the Zambia grant program mentioned above, school supplies, shoes, and clothing were provided to orphans and vulnerable children in the communities within the program (52 of 72 districts in Zambia), along with other services and support (pg 5).  The combination of services, including direct support using the GIK resource, showed that children in the program were 44 percent more likely to attend school (pg 9).

Basic Needs

The final sector supported is by GIK is known as basic needs. This consists of resources such as clothing, shoes, and household goods which are used primarily in cases of extreme need and in relief situations when families are internally displaced or lose their homes or livelihoods. Clothing is also used in some countries as an incentive for HIV and AIDS caregivers, community health workers, and other volunteers who spend many hours serving the community without compensation.

In an earlier post, we provided an example of how this type of product was used in Mongolia in response to the dzud in 2009 / 2010. In Zambia, caregivers and other community members also received clothing, which helped identify them as caregivers (shirts, uniforms). They also received items to help them move around during the rainy season, such as bicycles and boots. The report also references that men and, particularly, women in the communities showed an increase in income generating activities (from 11 to 24 percent) (pg 3).  The men and women were recipients of training, psyco-social services, and other resources, including GIK, that were used in support of the project, and directly resulted in this improvement.

It is important to note that any resource provided must be coordinated within the context of the project or program and with the knowledge and input of the community. Any resource, if it’s poorly utilized, can cause harm. GIK is no exception. In the evaluation of the Zambia program mentioned above, evaluators reported that improvements could be made in the way the GIK resource was planned, accepted, and distributed. Input like this is used to help World Vision improve its programming and resource utilization. Examples of how we’ve used this feedback to make improvements are discussed in the next two sections.

Standards for managing GIK

World Vision has developed a set of internal guiding principles called GIK Minimum Standards to govern all aspects of GIK management. These standards are designed to ensure that GIK resources are integrated and programmed, and are used in partnership with programming evaluation standards. This document is specifically designed to note the minimum standards for GIK resource management. Offices are encouraged to exceed the standards to improve their operational effectiveness and efficiency, as well as their strategic sourcing and programming of GIK resources in order to achieve World Vision’s program goals.

Fourteen areas of the supply chain are addressed in the standards. For this discussion, we will focus on three: planning, procurement, and acceptance.

Planning – As described above, program staff are asked to review their operating plans annually, identify needed resources, and determine those that may be filled through GIK. The request document is organized by sectors (health, education, etc.) and includes information to tie the request back to the project or program objectives. Annual updates allow us to be responsive to changes in programmatic planning, local resource availability, and other changes that modify demand. When the appropriate products can be procured through donation, the program can use its designated cash resources to locally purchase other products needed for the program. Alternatively, GIK may offer opportunities to improve the program in ways that the limited cash budget may not allow.

Procurement – Support offices, such as World Vision U.S., use the planning documents to determine the most appropriate potential sources to meet the needs expressed in the annual plans. Potential donors are educated on the needs expressed, and many choose to donate goods targeted to meet our strategic objectives. Educating our donors on field needs is a never-ending process because our work and requirements change based on the annual requests.

Acceptance – This area is addressed in two phases. Any donation offers designated for our international work are reviewed to ensure they meet the needs expressed by field programs.  Offers are accepted only if they are requested and meet the guidelines for safety, cultural appropriateness, impact on local markets, and quality. If items have expiration dates, they will only be accepted if they have at least 18 months of valid dating, such that products can arrive in country with at least 12 months dating before expiration.

Before a shipment is made to a National Office, a document is sent outlining the specific details of the proposed shipment. The National Office must review the products, and verify that they are still needed, as requirements can change throughout the year. This “double-check” step ensures that we are only sending targeted, required resources. A National Office can reject anything from a single item to the entire shipment, based on their current needs. Rejected items are pulled from the load, and, if necessary, are replaced with other required products. A shipment is never sent without this final approval step.

While we have not discussed them here, the other 11 standards relate to various elements of transporting, warehousing, and tracking products. These elements are critical to having an effective and efficient supply chain, ensuring we have the right products, at the right place, at the right time. We expect our work in this area to constantly grow and develop as our program needs grow and develop, and we identify ways to do our work even more effectively and efficiently.

Evaluation of projects with direct provision of goods

World Vision’s goal is to contribute to the sustained well-being of children within families and communities. Our staff members build long-term relationships with communities and work to address the root causes of poverty and to care for those most in need.

The provision of direct benefits is not emphasized in World Vision’s model.

Direct benefits are goods or services that are provided by World Vision directly to individuals or families. These kinds of benefits are provided in cases of extreme need, relief situations, to temporarily fill gaps in health and education systems, and in support of our work with capacity building and civil society.

Responsibility is placed first on the community and local government to provide help for the most vulnerable. When that is not possible, World Vision may provide direct benefits inside the context of a larger development program that is working to improve the overall situation of the community.

Considerations for integrating direct benefits

Benefits should reach those who need them.

World Vision offers direct benefits primarily in cases of extreme need or in relief situations. In some cases, direct benefits are used to support local health and education systems through schools and clinics. In situations where benefits go directly to individuals, our staff works with communities using locally determined selection criteria to decide who will receive the benefits. Depending on the context, the selection criteria might include:

  • The poorest families with low or no income
  • Female, or child-headed households
  • Disaster-affected families
  • Disabled children and adults
  • Orphans and children in care centers
  • Families without shelters

Benefits should unify rather than divide a community.

A 2010 evaluation completed by Impact Consulting, of World Vision’s relief efforts in Gaza, for example, found that ”[World Vision’s] decision to work out the selection process in close coordination with local committees in the targeted locations of the North Gaza and Rafah was a sound choice as they played the key role in putting forward beneficiary lists on the basis of preset selection criteria" (p. 11).

World Vision’s model is to work with communities to set selection criteria and to decide who receives direct benefits. Community decision-making ensures a more accurate identification of people who are most in need. In addition, the collective decision unifies a community around its choices and guards against individuals gaining benefits by controlling the distribution of resources.

In non-relief situations, benefits should be provided in the context of an integrated, holistic development program.

In a 2008 an independent evaluation of a World Vision-led child labor program in the Philippines specifically asked the evaluator to assess the effectiveness of the direct provision of goods and services to children and whether these led to the childrens' withdrawal or prevention from child labor. The evaluator concluded that “the success of the actions was directly related to the intensive advocacy and awareness raising efforts undertaken through the project. As a teacher pointed out, ‘It is the package deal of material assistance and the advocacy with the officials and parents that worked'” (p. 21).

Direct benefits only meet a short-term need and if provided on their own, they may create dependency. If used well, however, direct benefits can also provide children and families an opportunity to start to improve their lives. World Vision may provide direct benefits for a limited time as a bridge for the poorest families to enter into our development programs.

Read other blog posts in this discussion The financial costs and benefits of sending a shirt overseas, Basic overview of World Vision’s strategy and structure and our U.S. GIK operations, and Response to GIK discussion.

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