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Considering a can drive? Don't.

During the holidays many people feel generous and turn their attention to helping those in need. A popular way to do this is to have people donate unused canned and boxed goods to be donated to the needy. Slate provides a very compelling argument as to why these drives are just a plain bad idea. In brief, people often buy food at a premium price to donate (because they don't have surplus canned goods at home) rather than pooling money and buying in bulk. Thus:
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. You’d be doing dramatically more good, in basic dollars and cents terms, by eating that tuna yourself and forking over a check for half the price of a single can of Chicken of the Sea.
Charities, it seems, have known this for a while but are reluctant to turn away people for fear of insulting them.  The best option, it seems, is to donate money to charity. And while you are at it, tell us about your favorite charity.

This post originally appeared on Stuff Smart People Like. Subscribe to the Podcast.


  1. Best charity: Child's Play. Though it's over for this year.

  2. Thanks for the information about food drives. I think this needs to be disseminated more to the masses so we can actually help people more effectively.