Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is Charity Toxic?

In Robert Lupton's book, Toxic Charity, he talks about how our giving can actually be harmful.  Essentially, in some cases we may be enabling people to stay in an unfortunate situation rather than helping them get out of it.  As someone who has given to churches as well as charities, I was definitely interested in what he had to say.  We all want to believe our gifts are making a positive difference, right?

Lupton is not discouraging giving.  Instead, he is encouraging people to think carefully about where they give to ensure wise stewardship.   Lupton also suggests human needs organizations need to look for an investment from their recipients rather than providing goods and services at no charge. 

One suggestion to move away from freebies is to have a small investment from the recipient.  For example, one organization mentioned in the book offers $30 worth of food for $3.  The recipients have an active role in how the co-op is run and end up self-policing because they are invested.  It also provides benefits to their self esteem because they are able to contribute to the cost of feeding their family.

For anyone who gives money to charity - and especially to human needs organization - this will make you more thoughtful about your giving.  As for me, I'll continue giving to human needs groups, but will probably pay more attention to how their programs are run.


Anonymous said...

I agree. Most people usually don't value what doesn't require some type of buy in whether it's monetary or effort. I've observed that it almost becomes a deserving mentality without the buy in.

I have always preferred to teach someone to fish than just continually feeding them.

Tina said...

Great point. Even the smallest investment ensures some buy-in.