• DATE November 8, 2012
  • URL oneinstitute.com/tile/do-no-harm/

Do No Harm

Considering the ethics of creating ventures with social impact

Creating jobs for people who need them is one of the most effective, sustainable means of combatting poverty. Whether through so-called “social ventures” or not, entrepreneurs are in a unique position to help the poor.

In Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It), Atlanta-based entrepreneur and community development practitioner Robert Lupton draws on The Hippocratic Oath, a set of ethical standards in the medical profession, and proposes a new six-point Oath for Compassionate Service. While intended primarily for churches and nonprofits, the principles apply to entrepreneurs and job creators as well:

1. Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves

2. Limit one-way giving to emergency situations

3. Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements

4. Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served

5. Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said – unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service

6. Above all, do no harm

Here is how entrepreneurs and nonprofits are partnering to transform urban communities in Lupton’s context in Atlanta