Charity Detox

Following his book Toxic Charity, Lupton responds with a model of what he believes could transform charity programs for the better. Charity Detox lays out strategies that have proven successful not just for donors, but for the very people the donors wish to help. 

Written by Robert D. Lupton

Lupton believes most anti-poverty programs not only fail to end the cycle of poverty, but actually perpetuate it by creating dependency. Though it feels good to donors to make charitable contributions, money itself doesn’t make long-lasting change. The gamechangers, Lupton says, are economic and community development.


Lupton lays out three pillars of a new charity model that will “detox” the effects of modern charity. The first pillar is that charities and nonprofits need to leverage the business expertise of their supporters to accurately measure return on their charitable activities. He says nonprofits who begin entrepreneurial ventures for those in poverty both sustain themselves and give valuable jobs to the impoverished.


Lupton’s second pillar involved convening mixed-income neighborhoods to focus on re-neighboring, reconciliation, and redistribution. This idea centers on reworking neighborhoods so that instead of “rescuing” people from the area, the area is transformed into a place into which people of varied incomes would want to move. 


The final pillar involves keeping the focus of any charity work on the people being served. His work has shown that when low-income residents are involved in planning, implementation, and neighborhood revival efforts, they become beneficiaries rather than victims.

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