Maximizing Benefits for Women in Delaware: Improving Project Selection Using Optimization Techniques.

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Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, University of Delaware, Newark, DE.
Non-profit organizations need to use scarce resources efficiently. When it comes to helping Delaware women in need, the two most commonly used conservation methods under-achieve this goal. The Rank-Based method, which picks those projects with the highest benefits but ignores their costs, is the current method used by most non-profits but it always brings minimal total benefits. The Binary Linear Programming method, which picks projects to maximize total benefits while ignoring individual project’s desirability, leads to maximal total benefits but to the detriment of the average projects’ benefits. This paper distinguishes itself from most literature then by showing that optimization can benefit non-profits through tailoring the Rank-Based and Binary Linear Programming methods into a user-friendly, more efficient Hybrid-BLP method. This Hybrid-BLP method leads to a 140% improvement in the number of projects and 112% improvement in total benefits from the Rank-Based method.