‘Giving Back’ Through Consumption ≠ Transformational Development

28001_10151649890570087_378759422_n“In a culture where giving back through consumption is increasingly popular, and where myriad companies market items that purportedly help those in need, we should be cautious and deliberate about how we choose to support international development.”

This is an excerpt from an article on how companies like TOMS purport to help the poor.  You can read that article in its entirety here.  What I found particularly poignant in that article, were the words “giving back through consumption.”  I suppose it’s quite a natural outgrowth of capitalistic thinking, but to be honest, I struggle with the concept from a biblical point of view.



It’s probably an over simplification, but I could categorize giving in 3 ways;


1.  Giving to Give – Jesus’ teaching and example

2.  Giving to Get – Prosperity Gospel & Seed Faith Nonsense


3.  Getting to Give – “Giving Back Through Consumption.”

So, help me out here.  Is “Giving Back Through Consumption,” a biblically viable form of transformational development? 

Also, you may be interested in my 4 part series called “A Theology of Poverty & Praxis” 


Your Gut Reaction?
  • Awesome (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Useful (0)
  • Whacked (0)
  • Just Wrong  (0)
Be Sociable, Share!

    1. Miguel,

      I don’t want to second guess you so I will ask…what do you mean by “transformational development”.

      Sounds like corporate speak. Like a phrase used to promote a corporate seminar of some sort :) though I know you don’t mean it that way.


      • Yeah, it is sort of a new buzz word. It means helping the poor and disenfranchised in a way that develops them instead of enabling or incapacitating them.

    2. Okay now for my real comment on the substance of what you brought up in this post.

      If “giving through consumption” is defined as purchasing products in a socially conscious way so as to maximize the good that may be done to others (in this case buying one TOMS shoes that they might give a pair) then may I quite frankly say that in my understanding of the Lord’s ways…such giving is NOT Christ-like giving AT ALL!


      Because such giving is just a coating on self-centerdness and is done by someone else so that we don’t have to.

      It is not unselfish giving or giving for its own sake and to please God and not for anything that might be gained from it. TOMS stands to gain financially. If it was a net loss for them they wouldn’t do it. That’s not Christ-like giving! That’s worldly, feel goodiness that has next to nothing to do with modeling Christ-like giving.

      Jesus does NOT call us to buy a pair of shoes for ourselves that someone else (in this case TOMS) might do some giving in our name. He calls US to give of ourselves and of our resources to help the poor around us. Right where we live.

      So much Christian “giving” makes a mockery of Christ’s example or cheapens it to where it means next to nothing.

      It’s the same ol’ same ol’

      Give in a way that costs next to nothing (we’re going to buy shoes anyway – right?), is impersonal, and won’t inconvenience us!

      Jesus did not model such “giving”!


    Join The Conversation!