The winner of the 2013 Unorthodox Prize is
an effort to provide resources to decision-makers and responders
before, during, and after disasters and other humanitarian emergencies.
Based on our positive experience with the winner of our first prize competition, GiveDirectly, we launched a second competition in May 2013. The design and criteria were similar to the first, although we worked harder this time to solicit proposals from outside our own network and traditional philanthropic circles. We received nearly 250 submissions from around the world, covering a wide spectrum of disciplines. A number were promising, causing us to spend time reaching out to the applicants, references, and relevant thought leaders in order to make the best selection possible.
Following those efforts, we are very pleased to announce the winner of our second competition: Evidence Aid. Incubated as a project of The Cochrane Collaboration based in the U.K., Evidence Aid aims to bring rigorous evidence-based practices to the fields of disaster relief and humanitarian aid. See here for a brief description of their mission and vision.
We chose Evidence Aid for several reasons. First, its founder, Professor Mike Clarke, of Queen’s University, Belfast, and the organization itself seem outstanding, with great reputations in their field. Consequently, we believe Evidence Aid has an excellent chance of achieving its ambitions, perhaps more than other proposals we received. Second, Evidence Aid is a definite "misfit," in that it falls outside the traditional issue categories of most funders. Thus, funding resulting directly and indirectly from our prize could be instrumental to its success. Third, we have been on the lookout for philanthropic opportunities in which a time-limited, targeted, and cost-effective intervention could have a big and sustained positive impact on the world’s most disadvantaged people. Mitigating the lasting impacts of disasters, which are disproportionately felt by the poor, is indeed a fertile area for such opportunities.
Billions of dollars are spent annually on international humanitarian responses, yet aid budgets are not keeping pace with the increasing frequency and severity of disasters. At the same time, there is a push to professionalize the field. Evidence Aid can play a significant role in this regard by (a) conducting systematic evidence reviews to identify optimal interventions and (b) providing this information in an easily-accessible format to decision-makers and front-line relief workers. We are aware of no similar effort.
We intend for the Unorthodox Prize to provide visibility and endorsement to Evidence Aid, helping it achieve its goal of becoming a potent voice in the humanitarian aid field. While it is clearly not as unorthodox as GiveDirectly, we believe that, among all submissions, Evidence Aid is best positioned for success and offers the highest "return on investment" to society. We are excited to be working with the team at Evidence Aid to further advance their mission. In addition to the prize and potential follow-on funding, we intend to provide the non-financial support Evidence Aid needs to reach its full potential.