Bad Charity? (All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!)

Added: 08-21-2018

This article argues that donations to Africa do not help its people and actually have negative effects on economic growth. Africans already have access to clothes and shoes, and such charitable gifts can bankrupt local markets, use funds inefficiently and offend people who lose their livelihood because of foreign importation. Some critics argue that all foreign donations to Africa must stop.

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Type Reading Time Author Date Source
article 6 minutes NICK WADHAMS 05-12-2010
Type Reading Time
article 6 minutes
Author Date
nick wadhams 2018-08-21 00:00:00 UTC
Key Takeaways
  • Good intentions to help people do not matter, actions have to make sense. People must evaluate the consequences of their donations. 
  • Research has shown that foreign aid has not improved the African economy and may have actually hindered growth. 
  • Some critics argue that all foreign aid to Africa must stop.


This article discusses the heavily criticized advertising company, ‘I Wear Your Shirt,’ that sent leftover shirts to Africa as charitable gifts. Jason Sadler, the founder of ‘I Wear Your Shirt,’ was shocked by all the intense criticism as he just wanted to do something good and change the world. However, Sadler did not realize that “wanting to do something to help is no excuse for not knowing the consequences of what you're doing.”

Millions of Africans have no trouble getting shirts and do not see shirt handouts as a way to change the world. According to William Easterly, an author and NYU professor who is a leading critic of bad aid, ‘good intentions’ don’t matter, actions have to make sense. Not only is it easy to get shirts in Africa, but clothing donations can bankrupt local markets, and the cost used for shipping could be used more efficiently elsewhere. Further, this is a sensitive topic in Africa since the clothing industry collapsed due to second-hand clothing imports. 

Sadler has been listening to his critics and says that he does not want to dump a million shirts in Africa. Rather, through partnerships with HELP International and he wants to send limited amount of shirts to: orphanages, widows who can use them for economic improvement, disaster relief, homeless shelters, or people who can create other goods with them. 

Some critics argue that Africa is not a dumping ground and all foreign aid should stop as it produces adverse effects and keeps Africa back. Research has shown that “foreign aid has done little to spur economic growth in Africa — and may have actually slowed it down.” 


Sources referred to in the article:

  • William Easterly, an author and New York University economics professor who is a leading critic of bad aid. 
  • James Shikwati, director of the Nairobi-based Inter Region Economic Network, a think tank 
  • Rasna Warah, a Kenyan newspaper columnist and editor of the anthology Missionaries, Mercenaries and Misfits, a call to arms against aid. 
  • Ken Surritte, founder of