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This paper introduces a game-like decision tool – “Greatest Good Donations Calculator (GGDC)”, which has been collaboratively developed by scholars from the University of Rhode Island and the USAID Center for International Disaster Information.


The study is grounded in two streams of research – human learning through games and systems dynamics literature. The problem of “unsolicited in-kind donations” is discussed followed by the development of the GGDC.


The GGDC is a game-like decision tool that informs users on some of the complexities associated with humanitarian supply chains, and the ineffective nature of unsolicited in-kind donations compared to monetary contributions when sent in response to international disasters.

Research limitations/implications

The GGDC could be made more interactive and playable that could improve user engagement. The GGDC’s value to the humanitarian community and public could also be measured in other ways, such as surveys and A/B split tests after a major donation campaign.

Practical implications

Games, simulations and game-like tools could successfully be used to educate donors about smart compassion.


This is the first paper to introduce the GGDC to the humanitarian logistics community with detailed content about (i) positioning the study in the academic literature, and (ii) stages of development. Scholars, searching to adopt games or developing new games for the humanitarian world may find the information valuable.The GGDC is a unique example of federal government - academia collaboration in raising public awareness of the unsolicited good donations problem.