Toxic Charity

toxic-charity-headerIn Toxic Charity Bob Lupton argues that much of Americans’ charitable giving “is either wasted or actually harms the people it is targeted to help.” Part of the reason is that there is what he calls a “compassion industry” that is “almost universally accepted as a virtuous and constructive enterprise,” but its “outcomes are almost entirely unexamined.” The hard truth, he argues, is that years of charitable giving at home and abroad have barely made a dent in reducing poverty and often encourage dependency.

Bob Lupton was one of the presenters at CCDA 2012, and he shared some of his thoughts from this book. He is controversial in his views, but I generally think that’s a good thing. It gets people talking.

He proposes a new “Oath for Compassionate Service” for the charity industry to adopt, much as the medical community has adopted the Hippocratic Oath. Lupton’s Oath offers six key guidelines:

(1) Never do for the poor what they can do for themselves

(2) Limit one-way giving to emergencies

(3) Empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements

(4) Subordinate self-interest to the needs of those being served

(5) Listen closely to those you seek to help

(6) Above all, do no harm

Those are his thoughts – what do you think?

5 responses to “Toxic Charity”

  1. Marvin Olasky also shared 7 principles of compassion that resonate alot with Bob Lupton’s work. Check them out here:

    1. That’s great stuff – thanks Ivan!

  2. I tend always to look at charity from the point of view of giving, and rarely do I ever examine it from the point of view of someone who is receiving, which I have experienced a lot in my lifetime. I feel like views, and books like these help on both sides of the issue. Plus it shines a light into where your giving actually goes, thus creating an environment of honest giving, rather than giving out of guilt.

    Thanks for the recommendation Daniel, and we’ll be home on the 24th to the 5th:]

    1. Yay! Can’t wait to see you guys!

  3. 2 thoughts:
    1 – Having served in the peace corps, I think overseas aid/charity is even more likely to be inappropriate or wasted,
    2 – I’m surprised he doesn’t mention education as a means of empowerment.

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