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  • ... we live in a society which salves its conscience more by helping the interestingly unfortunate than the dull deserving ...

  • Human kindness is like a defective tap: the first gush may be impressive, but the stream soon dries up.

  • ... American business, while it does not frown on helping the human race, frowns on people who start right in helping the human race without first proving that they can sell things to it.

  • ... I regard philanthropy as a tragic apology for wrong conditions under which human beings live ...

  • Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it.

  • What is this Charity, this clinking of money between strangers, and when did Charity cease to be a comforting and secret thing between one friend and another? Does Love make her voice heard through a committee, does Love employ an almoner to convey her message to her neighbor? ... The real Love knows her neighbor face to face, and laughs with him and weeps with him, and eats and drinks with him, so that at last, when his black day dawns, she may share with him, not what she can spare, but all that she has.

  • O, ye who visit the distressed, do ye know that everything your money can buy, given with a cold, averted face, is not worth one honest tear shed in real sympathy?

  • Blest are the poor, whose needs enable / The rich but timely charitable / To take the Kingdom of Heaven by force. / The poor are also saved, of course.

  • It is quite fitting that charity should begin at home ... but then it should not end at home; for those that help nobody will find none to help them in time of need.

  • It is not begging but the beggar, who has forfeited favor with the elect.

  • The mail begs for everything but my life.

  • ... charity is a calm, severe duty; it must be intellectual, to be advantageous. It is a strange mistake that it should ever be considered a merit; its fulfillment is only what we owe to each other, and is a debt never paid to its full extent.

  • For those who are not hungry, it is easy to palaver about the degradation of charity ...

  • Charity is an ugly trick. It is a virtue grown by the rich on the graves of the poor. Unless it is accompanied by sincere revolt against the present social system, it is cheap moral swagger. In former times it was used as fire insurance by the rich, but now that the fear of Hell has gone along with the rest of revealed religion, it is used either to gild mean lives with nobility or as a political instrument.

  • Why is it that so many people think that charity consists in giving away merely what they cannot use instead of the article the recipient needs?

  • One applauds the industry of professional philanthropy. But it has its dangers. After a while the private heart begins to harden. We fling letters into the wastebasket, are abrupt to telephoned solicitations. Charity withers in the incessant gale.

  • ... private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city's disinherited.

  • All philanthropy ... is only a savory fumigation burning at the mouth of a sewer.

  • Something besides charity is needed in order to provide bread for everyone.

    • Louise Michel,
    • in Marcel Cordier, La Lorraine des écrivains ()
  • A philanthropist, Marian, is a person who looks down on everybody else, and makes himself whilst on earth very unusually unpleasant to all his neighbours. He generally lives long, and is very little regretted. The nation, on his death, raises a hideous monument to his memory as a token of gratitude to the Heaven who has removed him.

  • The essence of charity ... was not deciding what others needed and giving it to them, but giving them what they wanted.

  • Why was it that the instant you sent someone a check, no matter how worthy the organization, the first thing they did was ask you for more? Irritating, and a waste of the money she had just sent them.

  • Lots of people think they're charitable if they give away their old clothes and things they don't want.

  • Ultimately, I have learned that there are three requirements for successful philanthropy: artful askers, joyful givers, and worthy recipients.

  • Charities that purport to represent poor people abuse the public trust in an endless quest for larger budgets, career advancement, and political power ...

  • ... the nonprofit service sector has never been richer (in terms of share of the gross national product and jobs), more powerful, or less accountable. It is the only significant power bloc that is essentially unregulated, in spite of the fact that most of its money comes from the government, through either direct service contracts or tax expenditures. ... Taxpayers foot the bill. Poor people suffer the consequences.

  • Some [charities] may have been started with truly beneficent intentions, but even these finally give way to a pragmatism that shifts focus away from 'helping the poor' and toward sustaining the institutions. These dual objectives come increasingly to be at odds ...

  • Charity ... has always been an expression of the guilty consciences of a ruling class.

  • You have no idea, sir, how difficult it is to be the victim of benevolence.

  • The charity that begins at home cannot rest there but draws one inexorably over the threshold and off the porch and down the street and so out and out and out and out into the world which becomes the home wherein charity begins until it becomes possible, in theory at least, to love the whole of creation with the same patience, affection, and amusement one first practiced, in between the pouts and tantrums, with parents, siblings, spouse, and children.

  • ... there is less alms-giving in America than in any other Christian country on the face of the globe. It is not in the temper of the people either to give or to receive.

  • Could you honestly set out to help people without believing yourself better than they?

  • In most cases, I have found charity to be another name for guilt feelings.

  • The results of philanthropy are always beyond calculation.

  • Almsgiving tends to perpetuate poverty; aid does away with it once and for all.

  • That charity which longs to publish itself ceases to be charity.