Robert Lupton has been in the trenches and has done some good thinking along these lines. Here is his "Oath for Compassionate Service."
- Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.
- Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.
- Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.
- Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.
- Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said - unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.
- Above all, do no harm.