Did you know that 88 percent of Americans approve of extending a “helping hand” to those living in poverty?1 Here’s the catch, though: how exactly do we provide this help in the first place?

It all depends on what we’re trying to do. If we are merely trying to minimize the effects of poverty, then charity is indeed the way to go.

Non-government organizations – including religious ones – have long played a prominent role in charity. These are usually the first places people go to when they need some help, but these simply help minimize the impact of poverty in people’s lives.

They do not and will never be the solution to poverty.

Now don’t get me wrong: charities and the altruism behind these charities are not bad. They don’t even cause or promote poverty as the budget hawks in our state and federal governments often claim. What I am saying is that they are a band-aid solution to a deep cut: they stop the bleeding for a moment, but they don’t clean out the wound and allow it to completely heal.

If we want to stamp out poverty, then we have to take steps to promote good, clean and stable business in our communities. But until that is attainable, we still need charitable souls to give people hope for the future.

Charity’s role in this whole scenario is to provide a step-ladder for people to lift themselves up from poverty. Help with food, housing, medicine and even clothing can allow people to not only focus on finding jobs, but to regain their self-worth after being branded as homeless bums or welfare queens for so long.

This basically means that even if charity is not a solution to poverty, it is still a vital component that makes recovering from poverty possible in the first place.

We could, of course, just go back to the dog-eat-dog days of old. But we have to remember that the moment we cut people off from the hope that charity gives them, they begin to turn to other ways to feed themselves – namely crime.

So the next time someone scoffs at the idea of charity, gently remind them that they’re not giving away money – they’re investing in the stability of the society their children will grow up in.


  1. Source: Salvation Army – Perceptions of Poverty []

Last updated: June 18, 2012 by & filed under Blog

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