Research Manager

About GiveDirectly

GiveDirectly aims to reshape international giving –  and millions of lives – by enabling donors to provide capital grants directly to some of the world’s poorest people. GiveDirectly’s cash transfers stand on the shoulders of giants, backed by hundreds of high quality research studies that have documented the myriad positive impacts of cash on peoples’ lives.

GiveDirectly has been at the forefront of this evidence generation effort since we launched a decade ago. Fifteen randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of GiveDirectly’s programs are either ongoing or completed. These have covered diverse, cutting edge research questions including: the macro impact of transfers on local economies, the impact of a universal basic income, and establishing cash as a benchmark that traditional, ‘in kind’ aid interventions should beat in order to be considered cost-effective.

Complementing these experimental studies are numerous non-experimental evaluations exploring the feasibility, recipient experience, recipient spending priorities and self-reported impact of a range of innovative cash programs. These include large cash transfers to refugees, delivering transfers to extremely remote communities, emergency hurricane relief, and grants to young people living in informal settlements in Nairobi. We are increasingly seeking to integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches within individual studies to better understand how and why change happens.

Delivering and disseminating research has become a core part of GiveDirectly’s value proposition to donors, and central to our ability to raise the revenue that enables people living in poverty to transform their own lives.

Cash transfers are at a potential inflection point: COVID-19 has amplified the challenges of bulkier in-kind aid models, and governments are deploying cash as their most common tool of assistance to vulnerable populations. This brings new research challenges and opportunities. How do we combine existing research knowledge with recent data to design high-impact programs in a new humanitarian context? How do we evaluate the impact of those programs when in-person data collection is not possible?

GiveDirectly currently operates in multiple African countries: DRC, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda. We have also delivered disaster response programs in the United States and the Bahamas.

About the role

We are seeking an individual with 3+ years of experience in managing research and/or project evaluations who has a desire to work in a fast-paced team, a strong drive to take ownership of a wide range of projects, and the versatility to communicate clearly with a wide range of stakeholders.

This role requires a dynamic individual, who is animated by both the practical problem-solving needed to deliver high quality project evaluations (e.g. how should non-experimental evaluations assess impact?), and the research uptake challenge of designing evidence-informed programs (e.g. synthesizing existing research on nutrition impacts of different cash designs).

Our team is passionate about shifting the status quo with respect to how and by whom decisions are made in the aid space. We believe elevating recipient choice is critical, as are demonstrably committing to transparency around metrics and evidence. We are looking for applicants who are deeply aligned with these objectives, and energized by the prospect of building an organization that advances them.

Reports to: Research Director


  • Research oversight and delivery
  • Ensure excellence across all ongoing non-experimental evaluations of GD projects (most of which are delivered internally) through proactive project and stakeholder management across GD Field Operations, GD Field Technology and GD Revenue teams, as well as research partners (where relevant) and project funders. There are typically 10-15 active evaluations of this type.
  • Lead the design of new non-experimental evaluations, leveraging GD’s extensive routine data collection through SMS, USSD, phone and in-person surveys, working closely with the GD Field Operations and GD Revenue teams. Where relevant, work closely with external research partners to ensure the quality of evaluation design.
  • Lead data analysis and reporting writing for internal evaluations.
  • Ensure that internal GD guidance on non-experimental evaluations sets projects up for success.
  • Support the Research Director in overseeing GD’s portfolio of RCT studies. This includes deputizing for the Research Director as needed, and may extend to direct oversight of a limited number of RCT studies.
  • Program design
    • Drive evidence-informed program design within GD by synthesizing existing data and evidence in accessible formats and championing research uptake during the program design process. Ensure that the findings of previous GD research studies and evaluations are integrated into decision-making on future GD programs.
    • Partner with Revenue and Field teams to design programs that are operationally feasible, evidence-driven and meet donor requirements, thoughtfully assessing the trade-offs required.
  • Fundraising
    • Design and maintain systems for synthesizing research knowledge about the prevalence and impact of cash transfer programs by:
      • Writing clear, succinct research summaries on new topics based on demand
      • Updating existing summaries based on the latest evidence
      • Regularly scanning for new research knowledge (e.g. through Google Scholar alerts, research circulars, Twitter)
      • Producing summaries of new internal evaluations as they are completed
    • Act as a first point of contact for Revenue teams (e.g. Partnerships, Communications, Growth) when ‘evidence expertise’ is needed for writing presentations, funding bids, and blogs.
      • Continuously seek to improve the quality and scope of ‘self service’ evidence materials so that bespoke requests are seldom needed.
    • Contribute to high-quality donor reporting by providing timely progress updates on internal evaluations and external research studies

Core competencies and experiences

  • Understanding of the lives of people living in poverty – learned or lived experience of the reality of poverty — this could be extreme absolute poverty or relative poverty in a higher income country
  • Communication – be equally comfortable having a technical conversation with a research specialist as you are describing an evaluation in straightforward terms to a donor who has zero context. Expertise in communicating about research in a clear and compelling manner with a range of internal and external audiences — both verbally and in writing — is crucial in this role.
  • Quantitative research expertise – 2+ years experience of designing, undertaking or overseeing high quality non-experimental project / program evaluations is essential. Experience of cognitive testing survey questions, survey design, sampling and analysis is highly desirable for the role. Expertise in experimental / quasi-experimental research studies (e.g. RCT, RDD, PSM designs) would be an advantage but is not essential.
  • Qualitative research expertise – experience of qualitative research design, interview guide development, undertaking interviews / FGDs, qualitative analysis, integration of qual and quant in design and analysis
  • Research stakeholder management – speak the language of research specialists, experience of project managing organizations / individuals to deliver research on time and to budget, experience of overcoming unexpected roadblocks that derail project / program evaluations
  • Project management – experience of keeping multiple large-scale projects on track, proactively managing risks and stakeholder communications, maintaining project tracking systems
  • Knowledge synthesis – adept at summarizing complex academic papers and non-academic reports into key findings / talking points in straightforward, non-technical language.
  • Alignment with GiveDirectly Values:

We prioritize recipient preferences over those of donors or ourselves.

We do not impose our preferences, or judgments, on the beneficiaries; instead we respect and empower them to make their own choices, elevating their voices in the global aid debate. This value is core to GiveDirectly’s identity as the first organization exclusively devoted to putting the poor in control of how aid money is spent. It comes at a potential cost, as it means that neither we nor donors get to set priorities (and we may even lose some “efficiency” in providing this option).

We do what’s best for organizational – not individual – success.

This is a team sport, where we will succeed (or fail) together. The best players are not those with the best individual statistics, but those with biggest impact on our overall performance. We avoid territoriality, self-promotion, and I’m above this attitudes.

We say what we believe, and are honest in sharing information.

Having confidence that other people are telling us what they truly believe, without gloss or omission, is critical to effective communication and to our ability to learn and grow from feedback. We owe it to each other – and our donors – to instill this confidence even though giving and receiving information candidly are unusual in both professional and social life, and can be very uncomfortable.

We strive to be a source – not drain – of energy for our colleagues.

Our work is hard, practically and emotionally, and we cannot overemphasize the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, enjoying the company of our colleagues, and not taking ourselves too seriously.  In doing so, we aspire to generate energy and excitement amongst our colleagues in pursuing our mission. This should not preclude candor, and we aspire to achieve both.

  • Think rigorously; act quickly.

We are intellectually rigorous with a drive towards action – not debate.

We reason from first principles, grounding our decisions in objective claims about the world, rather than hard-to-disprove assertions or hierarchy. We aim to brainstorm inclusively and respectfully, but critically self-vet ideas we put forward, so as to ensure productive and prudent decision making.

Demanding this level of rigor forces us to think harder about decisions and our assumptions than we otherwise might. This is a real cost. It can be taken too far: it is possible to overthink decisions, and we avoid debate for the sake of debate.  We are not here to philosophize or ensure consensus. We decide and act quickly, avoiding getting bogged down in debates.

  • Accept reality. Propose solutions.

We do not dwell on problems. We work actively to create solutions.

There will always be an endless list of things to improve. We focus on the things that can be changed; find the most important of those things, and propose actionable answers. We do not allow “problems” to weigh us down and be a source of negativity.  We are forward looking, which we believe not only leads to better team outcomes, but also creates a more enjoyable, energizing environment for all.

  • Be productively ambitious.

We take the risks to pursue industry-changing success, not incremental progress.

We seek step-change improvements at all levels, and are willing to make big-bets; we do not accept complacency nor do we simply optimize existing processes. In doing so, we allow ourselves to dream big with a belief that perceived constraints are merely opportunities for creativity.

Such ambition not only requires hard work (i.e., this is not a 9-5 job), but also a willingness to accept and learn from temporary setbacks and failures.  In accepting these failures, we’re conscious to not point fingers, nor obsess over “mistakes” made.

We recognize and accept our imperfections with a focus on growth.

We are an organization of exceptional people and trust in each other’s abilities, yet we recognize that none of us is perfect. We strive to maintain an accurate understanding of our individual and institutional strengths and weaknesses, in order to position ourselves to maximize our chances of success.

At the same time, we seek personal growth for ourselves and our teammates. Feedback is given with a spirit of helpfulness; and sought out with a desire to learn.

**GD is committed to observing all local, national and international laws that protect children, vulnerable adults, and basic human rights of all.  GD is committed to a policy of “zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (SEAH)” and expects anyone who works for GD to uphold the protection and safeguarding of our recipients as a priority.**

More Information

  • Job City Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Monrovia, Lilongwe