The challenges facing ‘less fortunate countries’ are far more complex than not having enough clothes or shoes. In fact most people there already have shoes and clothes. One of the challenges that aid organizations are confronted with is how to have a lasting & long term impact on the community.
For every pair of shoes that you give to someone there will be less shoes sold. It is likely not a 1:1 drop since people will take free things they don’t need. But there are fewer shoes sold. This hurts the business owners who sell shoes. They now need to diversify their business or risk going bankrupt. Each sale of shoes that doesn’t happen is money that is now moving around an economy differently than it would have before. This assumes that the recipients of the shoes was finically strapped and the money isn’t simply saved for the future.
When the economy shifts this way for tens of thousands of people it changes things. The problem I see with the buy one give one approach is that there is no built in need for them to get this right. Their profit comes from the sale of the first pair of shoes. As long as they can prove the second was given to someone in some poor corner of the globe they are treated as good global citizens.
A possible alternative would be to employ people in those countries to produce the raw goods, and to manufacture the shoes. This way you would be flooding their local economy with additional jobs, money, opportunities, and if you still gave away a pair of shoes you’d likely have outweighed the impact by the influx of capital.
Yet these buy one give one programs really only work because the $50 pair of shoes you bought were probably made for $6.25. That allows them to make 2 pairs for $12, and their mark up brings the cost to the store to $25, which brings the cost to you around $50. (In general the cost doubles every time it changes hands). So it’d be doubtful you could make that shoe outside of Bangalore/India/China/Tha
There is also this great ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ Video which explains it well and visually: