A comprehensive study—and celebration—of the art and practice of charity.
In their detailed, absorbing examination of the whole process of charitable giving, the authors characterize charity as very simply, “a response of love to a serious need.” By using recent scientific studies, numerous case studies, and a thorough historical grounding, authors Jim and Nancy Cotterill outline four kinds of giving: reactive, impulsive, strategic, and spontaneous, although their categories really boil down to “planned” and “unplanned.” The Cotterills have a great deal to say about both, with a greater stress on the enjoyment of the act than the obligation. They cover the extensive connection of Christianity to charitable giving and stress the central role of giving in Jewish culture (“In effect, Jews replaced the act of honoring God through animal sacrifice, common in the first century, with the practice of honoring God through charitable donations”); they point out that zakat, generosity, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and quote Muslim nonprofit charity fundraiser Mashal Anjum: “I believe that some people are sent to this world to do good for others, and that is our test.” “The foundation of a Buddhist’s path to enlightenment is generosity,” they write, and for Hindus, lobha, miserliness, is one of the gateways to damnation (the book also rather makes the same doctrinal case for spiritualists, wiccans, Unitarian Universalists, and even atheist humanists). This is all fascinatingly related, and it serves as prelude to the book’s final “self-help” segment, in which readers are taken through the sometimes-complicated world of the “giving journey” on their path to “giving like a pro” —including organizations designed to help and tips for avoiding pitfalls. It’s this practical coda that elevates the book above the ranks of its feel-good peers; readers aren’t just urged to be generous, they’re given sound, specific, and trustworthy guidelines on how to do it.
A fact-based and ultimately uplifting manual on the duty, strategy, and simple joy of giving to others.