If You Care About Charities – You’ll Want To Watch This

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Photo Credit: Michigan 3Day

I’m guilty.

Of all the convictions Dan Pallotta lists in his TEDtalk, I’ve said or thought every one of them.

I’ve judged non-profit chairs if I think they take home a hefty salary.

I’ve complained when seeing non-profit advertisements on television.

I’ve praised non-profits for careful spending and low overhead.

And I was wrong.

Everything Dan Pallotta says is spot on. You’ve heard, “It takes money to make money?” Why does that work in a for-profit setting and not in a non-profit organization? 

Please – 
if you are involved with a non-profit, 
if you have given to charity,
if you’ve judged anyone spending others’ money in a way you don’t see fit
take time to watch this TED talk. 

Then tell me if and when you’re convicted. 

So, do you feel the same as I do? What stood out to you most?

Comments

  1. Deborah Beddoe says

    I love that you posted this and asked the question. I have about a million and six thoughts about this. I've been working on the creative team in a marketing agency for Christian nonprofits for the past 7 years and have done a decent amount of grant writing on the side for a local theater. So this is where I live.
    So my thoughts: If we take all the complexities of taxes and what nonprofit status means and look solely at the public attitude toward charity, it's an interesting study. But I'm not sure the problem lies as much in a systemic or societal attitude toward charity (inherited from the Puritans?) as it does in our elevation of our own self interests over the needs of not just our immediate neighbors, but the people we don't see who are in need. Most Americans fall into that category. We see need through a media filter.
    Our entire society has a "me" mentality. And even the very best nonprofit marketing has tapped into that. Even the statement Dan made, which I loved and will ponder for a while, "People are weary of being asked to do the least they can do" has a "me" attached. One of the motivators for giving is "to feel significant."
    The other interesting thing is that the discrepancy between salaries of medical nonprofits and social service nonprofits is very likely because of the size and scope of the nonprofit and the level of education/experience needed (often a medical professional is at the helm) as well as the funding received from major corporations, like Microsoft, funneled through the Gates Foundation.
    I think my take-away from his talk, however, is "ask about the scale of their dreams." Often in marketing nonprofits, we have to keep it safe. Ask for money for the things that are a safe bet, rather than fund their dreams. Ironically, dream crushing usually comes from the board of directors — often made up of people who are content to pay salaries far less than they would accept for themselves if they pay anything at all. A visionary board of directors is critical for the success of a nonprofit.
    Okay, I seriously could write about this all day (Sorry Andee!). But yes, it's kind of ridiculous that we don't give more money to organizations like Charity Water or Feed the Children, and the like. When, unlike cancer that demands scientific research, the solution is literally to open your wallet and you can immediately provide clean water or feed a hungry child.
    Oh! One last thing– he is wrong about the impact nonprofits have had — but probably because he recorded this before the re-evaluation of the Mayors' Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness and the statistics on the decrease of child mortality rates around the world from 1 in 5 to 1 in 20. Which means, our gifts DO make a difference.

  2. says

    Yes, I must admit I didn't fact check – I more was convicted by how I react when nonprofits spend money. But this: "Ironically, dream crushing usually comes from the board of directors — often made up of people who are content to pay salaries far less than they would accept for themselves if they pay anything at all. A visionary board of directors is critical for the success of a nonprofit."

    Your statement there says a ton. I think about places like World Vision and Compassion and when I recommend them, I've always tried to talk about their low overhead (although not really now that I think about it, but still, that's where my thought was).

    I appreciate you took the time to comment how you did. THIS is what gets news, discussion, and change out there and I love you for it! Keep talking and if you think of other ideas you forgot – come back and share.

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