Full Stack Engineer

New York, United States | Growth | Full-time


About GiveDirectly:

GiveDirectly (GD) aims to reshape international giving - and millions of lives - by providing cash grants directly to the world’s poorest. The Brookings Institution estimates that $70B of cash transfers would be required to eliminate the poverty gap; the aid sector currently spends $135B each year, much of it on evidence-free interventions. GiveDirectly wants to change that, establishing cash transfers as a benchmark for foreign aid - as the index fund is a benchmark for the financial industry - and in the process accelerating the end of extreme poverty.

GD has raised over $500m since launching in 2011, delivered cash to more than 500,000 people, and launched offices in 7 countries. We’ve also supported large-scale, experimental research that indicates strong recipient impact of our programs. As a result GD has been celebrated as one of the most innovative non-profit companies by Fast Company, while the growing cash transfer movement and GD’s leading role within it have been featured in the New York Times Magazine, This American Life, Foreign Affairs, and The Economist.

We’re looking for exceptional talent to grow our product team. Our culture is blunt, analytical, non-hierarchical, and fast-paced. We recruit candidates from top organizations across all industries - our team has hailed from consultancies, investment banks, start-ups, non-profits, and government to name a few. We value ability and willingness to learn over years of experience. We offer competitive salary and benefits and performance-based bonuses.


Role overview

We are searching for our first internal engineering hire to build the foundation for GiveDirectly’s donor facing growth efforts. This individual must have strong coding ability - plus the drive to stretch beyond the code into strategy, systems design, testing, and more. This is a unique opportunity to be an integral part of our first product team. Led by the Director of Product, this cross-functional team will include this engineering role, a data analyst, and a UI/UX designer. The product team will work with pillar heads across fundraising, field operations, and finance, focusing on projects that create increased donor engagement and help to reimagine how the social sector approaches donor growth. We anticipate 75% of your time will be spent building new products and the remaining 25% of your time doing maintenance, product improvements, and steady-state work. We are looking to hire soon with a flexible start date into Jan 2021.


  • As GiveDirectly’s first Software Engineer, you will build and own our fundraising tech stack, currently maintained by contractors and amazing volunteers. You will need to stay up to date on industry trends and advocate for shifts needed to keep our tech stack innovative
  • Architecting and building innovative products for GD’s donor communities that change the way donors interact with GiveDirectly and the nonprofit sector broadly
  • Driving dollars committed to the poor through innovations in fundraising tech (e.g., new structures for donor advocacy and referral, personalized reporting, targeted donation matching, technical SEO, etc.) 
  • Implementing a north star data platform and analytics solution for revenue data

What we’re looking for

We’re looking for folks with:

  • 3+ years post-education industry experience creating production-caliber software and systems
  • Fluency with web or mobile patterns and tools: 
    • SQL databases (Postgres, Redshift)
    • Caching strategies
    • Cloud providers (ideally AWS)
  • Experience with both backend (Ruby, Python, PHP) and front-end technologies (Vue/React, template systems such as Moustache).
  • Bonus: prior work in consumer-facing product; experience with WordPress or Salesforce

Outside of technical proficiency, we are looking for people with:

  • An ability to translate ideas into coherent software development roadmaps and into shipped products
  • Strong analytical skills and communication - able to break down complex problems, describe trade-offs, and communicate recommended next steps
  • Evangelism for writing clean, readable, and performant code
  • A willingness to give and receive direct, honest feedback
  • A desire to work in a fast-paced, high-growth environment  

GD Values

  • Recipients first.

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).

  • Team next.

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.

  • Be proactively candid.

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.

  • Create positive energy  

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.

  • Know yourself and grow.

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.