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Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It Paperback – October 2, 2012
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“[Lupton’s] new book, Toxic Charity, draws on his 40 years’ experience as an urban activist in Atlanta, and he argues that most charitable work is ineffective or actually harmful to those it is supposed to help.” (Washington Post)
“Lupton’s work, his books and, most importantly, his life continue to guide and encourage me to live and serve in a way that honors God and my neighbor. I highly recommend Toxic Charity.” (Danny Wuerffel, Executive Director, Desire Street Ministries)
“Lupton’s book reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He shows how the people called poor can be blessed by supporting opportunities for them to give their gifts, skills, knowledge and wisdom to creating the future.” (John McKnight, Codirector, Asset Based Community Development Institute, Northwestern University)
“A must-read book for those who give or help others.” (Booklist)
“In Toxic Charity, Lupton reminds us that being materialistically poor does not mean that there is no capacity, no voice, and no dignity within a person. If we truly love the poor, we will want to educate ourselves on how best to serve. Let our charity be transformative not toxic.” (Roger Sandberg, Executive Director of Medair International)
“A superb book. Toxic Charity should serve as a guide and course correction for anyone involved in charitable endeavors at home or abroad.” (Ronald W. Nikkel, President, Prison Fellowship International)
“Toxic Charity provides the needed counterbalance to a kind heart: a wise mind. Though I often thought, “Ouch!” while I was reading the book, Robert Lupton gave this pastor what I needed to become a more effective leader.” (Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland – A Church Distributed)
“When Bob Lupton speaks of the inner city, the rest of us ought to sit up and take notice... [His work is] deeply distrurbing—in the best sense of the word.” (Philip Yancey, author of What Good Is God?)
“Top 10 book of the year.” (World Magazine)
From the Back Cover
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.”
In Toxic Charity, Lupton urges individuals, churches, and organizations to step away from these 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
As Brooks (Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism) has shown, giving by religious Americans, both to church-based charities and secular agencies like the Red Cross, is extraordinarily generous by any measure, in time, treasure, and talent, compared with that of secular Americans and citizens of other affluent countries. Lupton does not disparage these efforts or their (mostly) good intentions, but argues that most of this activity does more harm than good. Given the author's own commitment and credentials in the field, anyone engaged in this work will want to pay attention to his critique.
In some ways, Lupton echoes those 19th-century critics of "sentimental charity," who sought to replace random handouts with organized charity based on a relationship between giver and recipient that offered "not alms, but a friend" (the motto of the Charity organization Societies).Read more ›
However, while important warnings are raised, unfortunately Toxic Charity seems to fall short on solid research, leaning heavily on anecdotal stories and intuitions. While rightly rejecting that all giving works great, the book frequently falls into an almost equally simplistic ideology, that can be summarized, "avoid dependencies". Citations of research on the topics discussed are rare, and range from hearsay to simply false data, such as citation of a World Bank study that quoted the wrong region, wrong intervention, and wrong data.
Again, Lupton has some great suggestions, and certainly the focus on doing a better job of listening to recipients and seeking to understand and research what they truly need to be empowered is wise. But too much of the book fails to follow this advise, instead relying on following the intuitions of the anti-dependency ideology. Sometimes these intuitions are good, but often times they lead to poor conclusions. For example, anti-dependency mentality recommends always preferring microfinance over direct cash transfer.Read more ›
Firstly, Lupton exposes the scandal of conventional giving. He questions why the poor remains so poor despite the huge aid given to them over the years. He wonders why handout lines continue to stretch. He probes the flaws of current giving models.
Secondly, the author re-calibrates the basic philosophy of good charity being learning to take the oath of compassionate service. Such an oath puts the development of the recipient's potential as primary, and the fulfilment of the giver's emotions as secondary.
Thirdly, the author tries to provide alternatives that redeems the whole giving process.
Readers will be shocked by the many revelations of how giving has not only not improved the conditions of the receivers, giving has become toxic instead. Thankfully, Lupton is able to articulate very practical and workable models for us to re-think and to restore good giving. What the poor and the vulnerable needs most are not more handouts or more problem solving. They need a helping hand to help themselves, and for the rest of the world to enable them to reach their highest potential. All good giving does precisely that.
I strongly recommend that all givers, both present and future read this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
excellent read. It clarifies how people in poverty need respect and programs need to be implemented according to the community.Published 1 day ago by Tena Thiessen
I was asked to read this by my supervisor but I just could not get into this book.Published 12 days ago by Nancy A
Toxic Charity solidifys what many instinctively have know since before Bill Clinton set out to reform well fare. Read morePublished 20 days ago by blaise hogan
This book was used at a hunger conference with my church. We were able to have the author join us. The book is very informative. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Bonita Haney
Great book to open our eyes to ways that we can really help those in poverty. Everything came on time and as promised.Published 28 days ago by Roy E. Ferguson
A must read for anyone who wants to be intelligent in their charitable donations and/or activities.Published 1 month ago by GaryB
This important book is a must-read for anyone who feels that need to help or give. Lupton thoroughly justifies why not only should we "teach people to fish (not just give them... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Maggieinkc
I really appreciate the information the author presented in the most thoughtful and thorough way.... to demonstrate how good intentions do not always result in good results. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jay Hearnley