In Toxic Charity, Lupton urges individuals, churches, and organizations to step away from spontaneous, often destructive acts of compassion toward thoughtful paths to community development. He delivers proven strategies for moving from "toxic charity" to transformative charity.
Proposing a powerful "Oath for Compassionate Service" and spotlighting real-life examples of people serving not just with their hearts but with proven strategies and tested tactics, Lupton offers all the tools and inspiration we need to develop healthy, community-driven programs that produce deep, measurable, and lasting change. Everyone who volunteers or donates to charity needs to wrestle with this book.
Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren't enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton. In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it's meant to help.
In his four decades of urban ministry, Lupton has experienced firsthand how our good intentions can have unintended, dire consequences. Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environment. We fly off on mission trips to poverty-stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways-trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in "turning my people into beggars."
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Customer Reviews for Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
Review 1 for Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
Robert Lupton has been engaged in urban-renewal efforts for over 40 years and brings his expertise to light in this excellent book. It seems that Toxic Charity is often mentioned in the same breath as When Helping Hurts – after having read both, this makes a lot of sense. Both came out roughly around the same time and both deal with the question of “Are our efforts to alleviate poverty actually working?” The answer that both books give is “no”.
This is a difficult thing to hear, as many of us (myself included) regularly give to and work with various charities and have gone on different service and missions trips. While Toxic Charity doesn’t write these endeavors off completely, Lupton does point that that Africa has received billions in aid over the past several decades and is seemingly in a worse position. Churches will spend 1000s of dollars to send a group of under-qualified volunteers to do work in a foreign land that the locals could easily do. We pass out free clothing and food locally, without knowing the folks we're trying to help and not realizing that our basic one-size-fits-all solution of hand-outs isn't the most effective thing we could be doing to help.
Obviously we do these things because we care – so instead of beating ourselves up over possibly being too in-effective (I’ve gone on two short term missions trips myself), maybe we should start asking the question of “How can we work with the poor?” instead of wondering how much money is needed to fix a certain problem. Like with any issue, it’s good to be able to take a step back and ask difficult questions and if you’re looking to challenge yourself with your understanding of aid/charity/missions etc, then I would highly recommend you picking up this book. While it's written by a Christian and mostly to a Christian audience, it would also be useful to non-Christians who give/participate in charity endeavors.
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Review 2 for Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
This was a very good book on the subject of charitable giving and work. The basic premise is that one should consider the person/ people who are receiving the charity. After emergency charity, one can strive to help the people help themselves and that will help motivate them to continue to work to solve their problems themselves. Basically this is "a hand up is better than a hand out" after the emergency is over.
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Review 3 for Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
A fresh approach to poverty alleviation
Date:July 9, 2012
A great book to help one understand the true value of building long-term relationships with the poor and helping them with life changing opportunities towards self-sufficiency versus just meeting needs which can be an unending journey leading to dependency, entitlement, and resentment.