Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton is a new book offering a challenging perspective on traditional charity and the unintended results it can have on the ones we seek to impact and empower. This book asks and answers tough questions like: Who is really benefiting? Who are we really seeking to serve? Is it the poor and those in need, or are we primarily serving ourselves?
Robert expresses that while organizations, churches, and individuals are very generous in charitable giving, unfortunately, much of the money donated is directed toward damaging, short-term mission trips instead of empowering, long-term support programs. He adds, “It is not the motivation, however, that we are questioning, but rather the unintended consequences of rightly motivated efforts.” Robert does express the need for short-term assistance in emergency situations, but attempts to show that if we truly want to empower and support the poor in our communities and world, then we need to make a shift from freely providing for the people we pity, to developing authentic relationships and helping support people and communities that have the capacity to help themselves.
There are many different examples that show how short-term mission trips can negatively impact the people we seek to help. Free food and clothing distribution are two examples that only encourage ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while encouraging their dependency. In addition, many foreign businesses in the local communities are crippled when the only price they have to compete with is FREE. If these forms of emergency aid continue longer than the emergency period, not only is long term development hurt, but community members can shift from a path of appreciation to dependency.
(Appreciation -> Anticipation -> Expectation -> Entitlement -> Dependency)
Listed below is (The Oath for Compassionate Service) which are principals Robert explains will help direct us away from “traditional charity” and toward “Lasting Impact.”
- Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
- Limit one-way giving to emergency situations
- Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements
- Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
- Above all, do no harm
There is HOPE!
When we begin to reexamine the ways we provide traditional charity, we find that our donation of time and money should be directed toward measurable programs that seek to empower the people we look to serve. But what such programs exist? Fortunate for the homebuilders in America, there is Homes for Hope!
Homes for Hope is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization that operates within the building industry across the United States, uniting builders and their trade partners, subcontractors, suppliers, and consultants to build a “Home for Hope” (a benefit home) on a largely pro bono basis. Once these homes are sold in the local community, the profit generated is directed to Hope International a global micro-finance provider. To date, Homes for HOPE has generated over $10 million in partnership with builders and their trades across the United States, resulting in assistance to more than 100,000 struggling entrepreneurs, restoring their dignity and empowering them to work their families out of poverty for good.
As previously stated, Homes for Hope’s primary partner is HOPE international, a Christian micro-enterprise organization that makes “micro” loans to hundreds of thousands of struggling entrepreneurs in 16 developing nations worldwide, enabling these entrepreneurs and their families to break free from the grip of poverty and pursue sustainable revenue generating business. Through this process Hope International is able to challenge the typical charity model and bring lasting change to over 500,000 current clients.
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