Dan Pallotta: Everything you know about charity is ‘dead wrong’

Full Frame

Dan Pallotta

Charities and non-profit organizations are generally expected to spend almost all of their revenues on a public service or philanthropic goal. At their core, these organizations are true to their name – “non-profit” or not-for-profit. But major players in the humanitarian field are beginning to question if the innate framework associated with non-profits actually prevents the organizations from reaching their full potential.

Dan Pallotta was one of the first entrepreneur-turned-activists to challenge the traditional non-profit framework. In 2013, he gave an iconic TED Talk that received more than 3 million views, still ranking in the top 50 TED talks of all time. In the talk, Pallotta criticized a double-standard that creates our broken relationship to charities – the idea that we should reward charities for how little they spend, instead of what they actually accomplish.

Pallotta joined Full Frame to discuss common misconceptions restraining today’s charities.

Dan Pallotta: Everything you know about charity is 'dead wrong'

Dan Pallotta: Everything you know about charity is 'dead wrong'

Charities and non-profit organizations are generally expected to spend almost all of their revenues on a public service or philanthropic goal. At their core, these organizations are true to their name – “non-profit” or not-for-profit. But major players in the humanitarian field are beginning to question if the innate framework associated with non-profits actually prevents the organizations from reaching their full potential.

Pallotta said that while the ways we have come to understand charities may have worked in the past, they keep today’s organizations from solving the major issues they aim to address.

“We are dealing with these massive global problems – poverty, hunger, all different kinds of diseases that are gigantic in scale – and if we are going to address them, we need these charities not to be quaint and tiny and cute, but we need them to be gigantic, as well,” Pallotta said.

Pallotta’s ideas were inspired by his own philanthropic achievements. Through his company, Pallotta TeamWorks, he created the multi-day charitable event industry (think AIDSRides and Breast Cancer 3-day walks). Through these events, the company raised more than $582 million in nine years, which was the more money for charitable causes in that period of time than any private event operation in history.

From his experiences, he learned that approaching charity differently could not only benefit the organizations and causes, but donors as well.

“The general public is smart, people have common sense,” Pallotta said. “They donate because they want to see these problems solved and we have to start by teaching them what it will take to actually do that.”

Although he has faced some resistance in his efforts, Pallotta is confident that changing the ways we think about charity can, ultimately, change the world.

“Before they bury us, if we want to see some of these problems solved, then we have to think in radically, beautifully, innovative new way about it,” Pallotta said.

Follow Dan Pallotta on Twitter: @danpallotta

  • Rascal McDoogle

    BS, wolf in sheep’s clothing, do a lot, take little salary and profit. Don’t try to cloud the philosophy by pretending to be so good that you need more for yourself. That is pure and simple greed. Nice try at fooling people, just like “politicians.”

  • Rascal McDoogle

    This whole article is “dead wrong, pure greed”. This is why “so called charities” get nothing from me. Nothing but flip-flam talk.

  • Rascal McDoogle

    Duh. Now walk the walk.