A Decade Later, the Call for Nonprofits to Think Big Resonates Anew
Pallotta, president of the Charity Defense Council, a Topsfield-based nonprofit that seeks to educate the public to focus on results from nonprofits instead of overhead, gained widespread attention after publishing Uncharitable in 2008.
His point: Focusing on the percentage of donations that goes to the cause vs. overhead "makes you think that overhead is not part of the cause, that overhead steals from the cause.
"Our system of charity doesn't produce the results we are after because there is a flawed ideology at work," he writes. Among the tenets of that ideology:
Instead of adhering to that mentality, Pallotta advocates that charities should pay attention to how people learn and behave, and then act accordingly. For example:
Uncharitable comprehensively makes the case for a radical change in the way nonprofits and those who fund them think about how charitable organizations ought to operate. The emphasis is to hold them to the same standards that we do for for-profits.
That means, among other things, paying what it takes to get the right people, actively advertising in order to attract more donations, and taking risks with new approaches to fundraising.
It's all about achieving big results. As Pallotta writes: "[If] we want social change to progress at the pace of molasses, then the system works fine as it is. But if we want dramatic improvement on the great social issues of our time, then we need dramatic changes to the paradigm that orders our efforts."
Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential is available from Amazon.
Reviewed by Peter Lowy