Pallotta: Is the way we talk about charity dead wrong?

According to the TED website: “Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.”

So, the question is: As nonprofit organizations, do we focus mostly on how modestly we spend or do we imagine and envision in an enormous way — much the way a transformative, for-profit enterprise might?

Some highlights that stand out in Pallotta’s 18-minute, though-provoking challenge:

  • “The next time you’re looking at a charity, don’t ask about the rate of their overhead. Ask about the scale of their dreams.”
  • “We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people. Interesting that we don’t have a visceral reaction to the notion that people would make a lot of money not helping other people.”
  • “Philanthropy is the market for love. It is the market for all those people for whom there is no other market coming.”
  • “When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation. If you kill innovation in fundraising, you can’t raise more revenue. If you can’t raise more revenue, you can’t grow. And if you can’t grow, you can’t possibly solve large social problems.”
  • “Our generation does not want its epitaph to read, ‘We kept charity overhead low.’ We want it to read that we changed the world.”

What do you believe? Are nonprofits playing too small? Are you a donor or a fundraiser or both? Please respond to the poll and reply below with more details.

 

 

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