Bruce's Blog


Thoughts on Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton: Part 2

April 14th, 2014

Part 2 in a 4 part series:

More Good Principles

Last posting I wrote about 5 principles in the book Toxic Charity. These were values with which many of my colleagues in providing social and community services and I completely agree. Here are five more. If you think this series is building up to an open discussion of some of the areas that are more controversial among us social services types, you’re right. Just remember that the first half of this series agrees with and reinforces the principles Mr. Lupton espouses.

5 More Good Principles

  • Trust is the foundation of all human relationships. Real reciprocal trust occurs when recipients become dispensers, authors of the rules, builders of the community.
  • When we define the outcomes we want to see from our giving, we need to care about seeing human dignity enhanced, trusting relationships being formed and self-sufficiency increasing.
  • Development is about enabling…people to help themselves….In the end what takes place in the community, on the street, in the home is what will ultimately determine the sustainability of any development.
  • The community must be empowered to act, initiate, make decisions and respond.
  • Due diligence is the cornerstone of wise giving….Are recipients assuming greater levels of control over their own lives; is leadership emerging around those served; are their aspirations on the rise; is there a positive trajectory? Though often difficult to quantify, such measures may prove better indicators of [success] than budget analysis and head counts.

So far so good

Finding ten principles for sustainable, dignified community (and individual development) in a 200-page book is no small feat. Others have built, for better or worse, on Mr. Lupton’s principles and ideas. The next installment of Bruce’s Blog will examine where some theorists and even some philanthropists have taken these fine principles too far. The final installment will address how some pantry directors and social service providers have defensively refused to take any of them far enough.


Will you take a minute or two and add your thoughts to these five principles of Mr. Luptin’s? With which of them do you agree or take issue? Have you seen examples of these principles in action? Where have you seen them neglected? What was the result?


#1 Crystal Lewis said:

@CrystalLewis: We all have needs, but a question like that one prompts us to shift our attention from "What do I need?" to "What do I have?" #gratefulness

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