Charitable organizations are necessary in society, as are the people that help fund them. There is no shortage of companies built to improve concerning issues in the world. One such issue is the overwhelming amount of people all over the world living in poverty. To combat this, there exist several charities geared toward helping people in such situations, providing things like food and clothing. Churches, for example, usually have feeding programs for the less fortunate. However, a recently published book suggests that these types of charities, the ones that raise money to dispense continuous handouts, are actually detrimental to society as a whole. Robert Lupton in Charity Detox argues that many charity programs are perpetuating the cycle of poverty by creating a dependency, and something needs to change.
This sounds preposterous at first. Charity programs can mean the difference between having dinner and going to bed hungry for many individuals and families. Lupton does not contest this, however, he simply believes society as a whole throws money at the poverty issue without caring about the results. Donors have a tendency to put their money into these programs, but what people living in poverty really need, Lupton says, are jobs and communities. This would require putting money toward programs such as interview training, and creating safer neighborhoods for communities to thrive.
In order to accomplish such a daunting task, Lupton writes that three main aspects of charitable organizations need to be drawn into the light. Namely, charities need to see their giving as investments and monitor their returns, they must focus on neighborhood rebuilding, and all of the people that each organization is helping must be involved in every step of the process.
Focusing on charitable giving as an investment seems cold, but Lupton has a point. Organizations that are able to make a profit from their charitable giving are more sustainable, and also have the ability to provide those living in poverty with stable jobs. This will help more individuals and families out of poverty, rather than just provide a short-term solution. Additionally, rebuilding neighborhoods is a no-brainer. Any mixed-income neighborhood is safer and helps breed more social interaction. Finally, making those living in poverty decision-makers in the revival of their neighborhoods will foster a further sense of trust and community.
When initially described, Charity Detox seems rather heartless. However, reading this book will be beneficial to anyone looking to beat poverty rather than just put bandaids on it. Lupton makes some very good points, and I think we can all learn from reading his thoughts.