Category: Charity

Addie Zierman: The Inadequate Gifts That Change the World

Most of all, I remember the jolt of understanding that fell across my heart as I stood in that shipping container house and realized that the answer to the open wound of poverty is not, in fact, some Extreme Home Makeover (Move that truck!). It is not some lavish gift or building donation. The answer

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Economic and Political Empowerment

A couple of weeks ago, I shared this link to a story at the Washington Post. Here’s the gist. A lot of international organizations focus on women’s empowerment. But a lot of those organizations think of empowerment in terms of the ability to make a livelihood. They give women chicken or goats, or microloans to start

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Charity as a Foundation

A while ago, Jacobin published an article titled “A Foundation, Not a Net.” Here’s an excerpt: A better metaphor, both in terms of accuracy and rhetoric, would be the foundation. The welfare foundation provides a universal set of services on top of which people can build their lives. It is a permanent support structure, not a temporary failsafe.

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He Who Does Not Work, Neither Shall He Eat

It happens sometimes. A conservative friend will read something by someone like me – someone who suggests being more generous towards people living in poverty or someone who advocates for a universal basic income – and they’ll cite this fragment of a verse from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians12 Thessalonians 3:10: He who does

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The New York Times: The Pope on Panhandling

But what if someone uses the money for, say, a glass of wine? (A perfectly Milanese question.) His answer: If “a glass of wine is the only happiness he has in life, that’s O.K. Instead, ask yourself, what do you do on the sly? What ‘happiness’ do you seek in secret?” Another way to look

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The Bodies in the River (a Story)

Once upon a time, there was a village that sat just beyond a bend in a great river. One day, the people of the village noted a few people floating past the bend and pulled them out of the water. Some were dead, and the people of the village buried them. Some were sick, and

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On Mission Trips

Mission trips have gotten a lot of criticism. Some of that criticism is deserved: there are mission trip volunteers who focus on tourism instead of service; there are organizations that make poor use of the volunteers who come to serve with them. But these criticisms seem to rest on a single set of questions: are

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Varieties of Giving

Not all giving is the same. Not every gift means the same things, takes the same form, or has the same motivation. An anonymous cash gift to a homeless shelter, for example, is different from a gift of stock to an elite university in exchange for the university’s business school being named after the donor;

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You Can’t Play Someone by Doing What They Want (a Story)

Once upon a time, a woman went to a park with coolers full of 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She gave the sandwiches out to anyone who came to her. Some people took a sandwich and left. Some people took a sandwich and, a little while later, came back for a second one… or a

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