Together We Can End Slavery . . . Again!

How to be Smart in a World of Stupid Charities

 5 Dumb Ways We Donate
donate 650 px“Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people.” From the book, Toxic Charity, by Robert D. Lupton.

My brother is a recovering alcoholic; sobriety is a lot of work. But it pays off, because he has peace. He is not a frantic fixer, which is interesting because AA meetings are full of people who need fixing.

But AA provides the tools for fixing. That’s all. And that’s the key.

One recovering addict has the tools to help another 5, 25, 125, who knows how many addicts?

People who receive charity handouts teach others to receive charity handouts. That kind of exponential growth is destructive, demoralizing and degrading.

Why can’t we stop doing it?

Would you like to donate $2.00 to Heart and Stroke, Children’s Charity, Breakfast Club? Yeah. Of course, you want to help. So you say, sure, Can you show me the CEO salaries first? Or, Is the breakfast club a co-op or a free-food give away? I need to know because I am a cheapskate asking hair-splitting questions and holding up the line over a measly, two-dollar donation.

You’re wasting your time. Most checkout people don’t know the answer to those questions anyway. So just donate the same way you shop: No questions asked.

Except that, if you are an advocate for justice, you have to ask.

Or be manipulated. Charities and merchandisers pay CEOs seven-figure salaries to manipulate the way we spend. It pays.

Charities compel us to give money and feel good, because your giving makes the difference.

Marketers compel us to use money to buy status and sex appeal, because if you buy this car, suit, bra, you get sex appeal. It’s maddening.

Foam-at-the-mouth maddening, only don’t get into a questioning-froth at LaSenza, because there isn’t enough fabric in there to wipe up an eye drop spill. Unless you’re shopping padded bras; in that case there’s enough capacious absorbency for say, a Super Big Gulp.

“Is there slavery in the manufacturing of this lingerie?” Shoulder shrug. Nobody knows.

Most retailers don’t know the answer to ethical-product-line questions. If they did, we would be responsible for knowing that we are clothed and fed at the hands of slaves. Who wants to be accountable for that?

What about charity without accountability? It’s the exact same thing. It exploits the poorest, most vulnerable.

Take Haiti for example; no other country in the Western Hemisphere has received more help from not-for-profits and governments. Poverty and dysfunction deepen. From 1970 to 2010, $8.3 billion in foreign help was handed to Haiti. And the country ended up 25 percent poorer than before the help arrived. After the earthquake of January 2010, another $9 billion of charity money arrived. Yet Haiti is a hotbed of child sex trafficking. Why isn’t Haiti getting better? Why are its children suffering?

Except for me however; I depend on the giving of others.

You wouldn’t believe the gifts I have been given. It started young, my own pony, my own car. And then, by my own teen-aged descent into excessive, destructive living. Followed by a brand new start at age 18—I needed that, believe me. Once the skeletons were cleared away I had space for more gifts: education—gift, travel—gift, bank account—gift. I’m gifted. Not to mention the take-for-granteds: food, shelter, police protection. I have a lot. And I didn’t invent any of it. I am not the source of the car keys that have been placed in my hand or the credit cards, or my smartphone . . . All of it, comes from the work of remarkable others!

Who can say that any of the advantages above are purely the result of their own hard work and ingenuity? I can’t.

You’re probably the same way. You know you are one of the global few who have received more than enough plus food, shelter, and protection. And you want like anything to see others have those advantages too.

So you give. And I love that about you.

What’s dumb about donations? Just this: Mercy without justice equals corruption. Money can’t cure addicts, poverty, or corruption. Money by itself makes things worse.

Take a look at how AA uses donations: free meeting places and free support people. Those are the tools. Freely given. The responsibility to do the recovery work is the responsibility of the addict. It’s a long-term accountability partnership where the receiver takes responsibility.

Same with MADD. They make me responsible. What does a food co-op do? They make participants responsible.

5 Stupid ways charity makes things worse.


Encourage questions. Provide answers. So you can:

Adopt a proven action plan. Bold print the accountability part. Wear it like a slogan t-shirt.

Then strut your stuff all over town. Gather a passionate group of VOLUNTEERS. Your community will adore you. You want to be adored, don’t you?  (I do.) Then don’t just complain about the vulnerable four billion people who live below the poverty line.

Win young people. Your community will adore you when you advocate for local youth as up-and-coming freedom fighters, because town councils, local businesses and community service providers love it.


Bad idea. It might feel good to give that way, but it makes beggars instead of providing justice for the poor who continue to suffer from predatory violence. International Justice Mission’s founder, Gary Haugen, tells of being on site at a Rwandan genocide, weeks after hundreds of people were killed by machete. What did those victims need? It wasn’t money, or food lines, or schools. They needed someone to restrain the hand holding the machete. Our donations need to create justice systems, not handouts.


Disconnect with the cause as soon as the fundraiser is over. Big mistake. Boldly post your vision. So you don’t get distracted by first-world aesthetics. Distraction will lure you into doing a dalliance with some subspecies of meaningful living that is nothing but a time/money sucking addiction, like updating your two-year-old furnishings. Please. Start a revolution of purpose so that when your friends come over you have something of substance to talk about, instead of prestige purchases.


The mistakes of failed charities are so bad you avoid the lousy stigma of it all. I can understand that. So why not forget the charity problem? After all, we tried, right? That’s what our culture would want us to do, to move on, do something else. Get distracted. But it’s not time for distraction; it’s time for a do-over. “We haven’t brought our best thinking to the table yet.” Gary Haugen, IJM. #LocustEffect

“No watchdog organization warns of the dangers of charity, especially given the growth and popularity of this industry . . . the benevolence business is almost entirely unexamined.” Toxic Charity pg 35.

Now that we know better, we can do better. We can end slavery, poverty and predatory violence.


You didn’t create the toxic effect of charity—not your bad. Fine, but don’t pretend it’s not real. Admit to it. Confront it. Remember how Johnson and Johnson brilliantly rebounded from catastrophe back in 1986? J&J took action after the tainted Tylenol murders, clearing the product off of every shelf, and making universal improvements in packaging. It was bold, new and risky. And it made life better for all of us.

Be warned: When you clear the table of the past failures, the future is new and risky. That’s scary. If you act boldly, you will face fear. But hiding under the blankets won’t help. So challenge the scorpions under your bed and get moving. How bad can a few stings be anyway? The fear is worse than the pain. Test it. Try something like this statement of purpose:

 ~We are committed to finding better ways to share the freedoms we enjoy every day with those who suffer oppression, violence, and exploitation. So that basic human rights—protection, paying work, provisions for health and wholeness—would be common to all. Or write your own. Then post it.

Or don’t. But if we do nothing, “normal” will get weirder.

Want to know how weird so-called normal can be? Take a look at this lynching. It’s shocking and cruel but at the time, perfectly normal. This is the story of Claude Neal. He had to die, even though he did nothing wrong, except for falling in love. Oh yeah, and being born black.

It was 1934. Neal was 23 years old, in Mariana, Florida when he was accused of the rape and murder of a white girl, 20-year-old Lola Cannady. He was lynched in the woods by Chipola River by a self-selected committee who had nothing to fear from the law when they took “justice” into their own hands.

The execution was scheduled for 8:00 pm. The news spread fast and the town people gathered early, bringing children to watch and learn. There were so many people that mob mentality threatened to take over. So the self-selected execution committee decided to torture Neal in the woods before the execution. His captors took knives and castrated him, and made him eat his severed body parts, “and say he like it” a witness reported. One man vomited at the sight. A reporter from the National Association of the Advancement of Coloured People, (NAACP) said, “It is almost impossible to believe that a human being could stand such unspeakable torture for such a long period.” Neal was burned with hot irons in a ritual that went on for hours. He was repeatedly choked. Every now and then they’d cut off a finger or toe—which were later sold as souvenirs.

Not long after the murder of Neal it was discovered that Lola Cannady, who lived across the street from Neal all her life, was romantically involved with him. Cannady’s family is suspected of being involved in her murder. But nothing was ever done to bring either murder victim’s perpetrators to justice. Neal’s mutilated remains were displayed, photographed and became a popular post card. That was just normal.

Whites who didn’t agree couldn’t do much about it. Blacks who stood up for justice were often killed. Change is hard.

Tell me something I don’t know.

Justice for the poor and exploited is more complicated than Marvel Superheroes make it out to be. You can’t just show up in a spandex suit and get the bad guys. But you can show up with awesome strategies, proven methods, and better thinking than ever before (and still wear the spandex under your clothes if you want; now there’s a product line LaSenza could be proud of).

It’s your turn. Tell me your opinion on charity giving?


About Marilyn Luinstra

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