Poverty Basics

Quick Facts

How big is the problem?

Nearly 385 million children live in extreme poverty. Source

Today, more than 16,000 children under 5 years will die from hunger, disease and other poverty-related, preventable causes.

The more you know, the more you can help:

Why is There Extreme Poverty?

Extreme poverty persists due to:

  • Limited access to resources.
  • Weak economies unable to provide jobs.
  • Lack of education.
  • Policies that don’t work.
  • Poor governance.

People need some help to lift themselves from poverty.

Government problems

Developing nation governments are often weak or unresponsive. This makes it difficult to collect taxes and provide badly needed services. Without clean water, sanitation, roads, basic public health and education, extreme poverty continues.

Many governments steal or misuse taxes and foreign aid. It is wasteful to keep giving billions of dollars directly to them.

Wealthy nation governments often set trade and foreign aid policies that do more for wealthy special interests than the people who need help most.


All the food and resources to help end poverty are available. When enough people like you and me support better policies, extreme poverty can end.

It helps to know how poverty feels.

How Poverty Feels

We don’t want to guilt you. But knowing how it feels – and that we all can help – kindles our compassion and keeps us motivated.

So how does extreme poverty feel?
  • Walking for hours in the hot sun, just to get some water.
  • Feeling weak, suffering from easily preventable diseases.
  • A mother watching her child slowly waste away, because she has no milk to give.
  • Breathing unhealthy air while working 100 hours a week for bare survival pay, when a loan of $100 could start a small business.
  • It’s being hungry. Very hungry.
How does it feel to be part of the solution?

It feels good. And it’s easy to get started.

Make your voice heard: Please sign the petition

It helps to know the dangers.

What are the Dangers?

What happens anywhere affects us everywhere.

Extreme global poverty threatens us, too:

  • Famine not only affects one region. It also increases food prices for everyone around the world.
  • Epidemics spread more easily. Ebola is only one example.
  • Environmental destruction – As people struggle to survive, they’re forced to use resources unsustainably. Pollution endangers everyone.
  • Political chaos can spread. This leads to riots, ruthless dictators and wars. Failed states are safe havens for pirates and terrorists.
  • Refugee crises strain the resources and stability of many nations.

Terrorism – Extreme poverty and gross inequality spur resentment and  encourage acts of terror.

To solve this, we want to avoid big mistakes

Big Mistakes

Handouts do not solve poverty. It’s much cheaper to prevent famines than to keep sending emergency food aid.

Many nonprofits work directly with some of the world’s poorest people. Many of their programs are much better than handouts. But 815 million people still go hungry.

Charities can only help a limited number of people in limited ways. This leaves millions of people in extreme poverty. Nonprofits lack the massive resources and influence of wealthy nation governments.

Despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent since World War II, poverty in many nations is getting worse. Why?

Since 1945, the US has spent more than $2.4 trillion on foreign aid.* Billions more dollars were spent by other wealthy nations. Source 

Hearts and Minds is the only organization that has a better plan.

Broken promises

In 1970, the US supported the general aims of a UN resolution. The wealthy nations promised to give 0.7 percent of their national income to foreign aid. The USA fell far short every year since. Source

Our 2016 contribution was only 0.18 percent of national income, ranking 22nd behind most economically advanced countries. Source

Special interests groups capture much of foreign aid for their own profit, even though it is often inefficient or counterproductive.

Many charities do good work. Some help thousands of people, but that doesn’t fully solve the problem. 815 million people are still hungry. 1.8 billion people or 25% of the worldwide population were struggling to live on less than $2.50 in 2015. We can do better!

The noble efforts of many charities who work to end extreme poverty
fall short. They cannot do it alone with the size of the problem and inefficient government participation.


Broken promises

Since 1970, the world’s wealthiest nations have agreed many times to give 0.7 percent of their total national income (GDP) to end poverty.

Decades later, the United States still only gives 0.23 percent of its GDP. That’s less than a third of what was promised. Most of the wealthy nations act similarly. As a result, extreme poverty continues.

(Agreed in 1970, the UN has determined the foreign aid target of 0.7% of a donor’s national income for developed countries. However, only Sweden, UAE, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK are currently meeting this goal. Whilst in absolute dollars, the US tops the list, its contribution compared to Gross National Income was only 0.18 percent in 2016, placing it 22nd behind most economically advanced countries. Many of the wealthy nations act similarly. As a result, extreme poverty continues.)

Off target

The money we do give often never helps those who need it most. For example, over half our foreign aid goes for political and military strategic interests, not poverty relief.

(For 2015, the percentages were Military and security aid (35%), political aid (11%), humanitarian aid (16%), long-term development aid (38%).

(The US spends $30 billion on aid that assists the world’s poorest as compared to $633 billion on military spending).

What Works

With your help the impoverished can escape the cycle of poverty.

The best solutions empower people to help themselves, without having to endlessly rely on foreign aid.


Introduction to Our Platform

Share This