The morality of charity


A lot of us hold the belief that we should give to charity, be it from a sense of religious duty, or from a feeling that we should give something back. Yet the question of morality seems to end once we have decided whether or not to give.

But can we, and should we, make moral judgements about where and how people give to charity? At what point does irrational giving become immoral? And do we even have any standards on which to make these judgements?

We need to find ways to make it simpler for people to make rational choices about giving. One potential solution is the idea of grading ‘public benefit’ in a similar way to hospitals or schools, based on a clearer definition of public benefit from the Charity Commission. Could we then hold donors to account for their giving? Would that be a good thing?

This speech was presented by NPC’s chief executive Martin Brookes at a lecture at the RSA discussing the morality of charitable giving.

 Should all charitable actions be applauded? Or should we, in some cases, be looking to encourage more thoughtful giving by donors instead?

Martin Brookes, chief executive, NPC

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