“In Praise of Do-It-Yourself Do-Good” and “Broken Windows Philanthropy” by William Schambra
Two short essays representative of many others produced by a leading critic of current fashions in large scale, “root causes,” measurement-driven, “change the world” philanthropy. He prescribes a humbler, more local, more “charitable” style of helping which accepts the difficulty and sometimes undesirability of transforming people and social institutions.
The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky
Excavates lost history on how poverty can—and cannot—be fought effectively. Concludes that the real problem with much contemporary aid is not that it is too stingy but that it doesn’t address, in a personal way, the damaged hearts and souls that are at the root of much economic failure. Here is a brief bit of relevant reporting by the book’s author.
The Triumphs of Joseph by Robert Woodson
Readers meet a string of neighborhood heroes who are struggling not only against the problems of urban poverty but also against bureaucratic notions of social service fashionable among philanthropists and government officials. Read an extract from the book in which Woodson explains how grassroots social ministries can help the underclass.
Poverty and Compassion by Gertrude Himmelfarb
This Victorian history compares the guiding lights behind the Christian Salvation Army and the socialist Fabians, traces the development of concepts such as unemployment and the poverty line, and concludes that the material and moral dimensions of poverty were inseparable in the minds of the Victorians. Read Peter Berger’s review in Commentary.