redux plus
October 13, 2013

attending the dan pallotta talk was like hearing his TED talk live with additional icing on the cake in the form of a lot more statistics. that’s how it felt. it was good to review the points he makes. they still make sense. he’s a very professional speaker, but he seemed weary. and he was peddling his books, uncharitable and the new charity case.

i was reminded of the the sobering facts that charity is a measly 2% of the GDP (gross domestic product) and of that 2% only 20% of it goes to health and human services. this seems a gross failing of our priorities and values as a people and a country. the question is why?

pallotta’s answer is to let philanthropy use the methods and tactics that make capitalism successful, to shift old ways of thinking about non-profits such as, overhead steals from the cause  and the moral superiority of using less to fundraise to capitalist thinking such as, incentivizing success and using marketing and advertising to increase the market demand for more philanthropy.

i don’t know if this, “using what works” from capitalism is the right fix. but i do know that the most important statement pallotta made was this, when you don’t permit failure you kill innovation. its time we permit ourselves as donors and givers and our non-profits to try new ways of achieving philanthropy with permission not to get it right all the time.

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september update
September 29, 2013

it’s been awhile since i’ve posted. my apologies. i won’t bore with why. instead, here’s a preview of what’s coming:

october 3 i’m attending a talk given by dan pallotta that i hope will inspire more mindful giving perspectives or deepen my thinking about pallotta’s TED talk points.

also, in october, i will be launching a crowd sourcing campaign on indiegogo for a writing project i’m working on. crowd sourcing is considered investing, not giving. so stay tuned for my reflections on the differences and similarities.

morality vs. frugality
August 27, 2013

In his TED talk, dan pollotta makes a distinction in philanthropy between frugality and morality. the bottom line: they aren’t equal. pallotta says too often donors want to see the organizations they give to behaving in fiscally frugal ways. the reasoning goes that the less a non-profit spends on everything other than direct service the better (read more trustworthy, honest, high minded) the organization. in other words many donors do equate frugality with morality.

do you?

i can honestly say i was influenced by my upbringing to believe in general frugality is a superior trait and one to aspire to. such a world view has definitely affected my perspectives and actions. i admit to having made moral judgments about others based in large part on their spending habits. and i’ve been hypocritical enough not to count some very lavish spenders I know as less moral.

but less isn’t always more. the true bottom line for non-profits is impact. and by chaining donations to both organizations and individuals to the measure of their frugality is often short sighted.

maybe you think someone who needs financial assistance shouldn’t be spending money on an iphone or a taxi. maybe that’s because you think you know better than they do about being smart with your money. maybe that means you feel superior or judgmental or that you only want to give to people who subscribe to your world view.

sure you have that right. but take a moment to think about how your assumptions limit you. can you recall a time your actions were judged by someone who didn’t have all the information and criticized your values? what would it be like to give money to someone for whom frugality wasn’t a strong value?

giving & getting apartheid
July 16, 2013

in his provocative TED talk, dan pallotta claims there’s an apartheid system between business and non-profits —separate rule books.  he encapsulates his perspective through 5 areas of discrimination:

*Compensation— how much $ professionals in the field earn
*Advertising & Marketing — how much of our donations/investment we consider reasonable for an organization to spend on these
*Risk in Pursuit of Revenue— our tolerance for/support of  taking risks with our donations/investments that include failure in the pursuit best practices
*Time— our tolerance for donating/investing over time without success (pallotta points out it took Amazon 6 yrs until it turned a profit, but investors stuck it out)
*Profits — providing a stock market, a mechanism to reward donors/investors on a significant and meaningful level

i will post about each of these individually. anyone want to request which one to start with?

talkin bout legacy
May 27, 2013

everything the donating public has been taught about giving is dysfunctional, says AIDS Ride founder Dan Pallotta.

now, i’m not willing to go as far as “everything,” but i do agree there’s a lot of dysfunction in the way we think about and do philanthropy.

i implore all of us committed to philanthropy to participate in the process of taking a hard look at the thinking and perspectives that have been handed down to us and undertake some serious revising– and reinventing, if necessary. the goal is to pass on a better legacy, one that is more functional and builds in the process of evaluation and change necessary for any dynamic enterprise to be successful.

we could start the discussion right here. or we can gather elsewhere, in person or via the web.

who wants to join me?

why we think like we do
May 4, 2013

in his fascinating TED talk, dan pallotta offers the following take on the origins of our american perspective on giving.

pallota believes our ideology comes from Puritan beliefs. he explains that although we commonly learn Puritans came to America for the sake of religious freedom that they also came to make $. pallaota claims Puritans were really aggressive capitalists. this presented them with a dilemma. their self-interest (capitalist tendencies) would lead to eternal damnation. to reconcile these two contradictory values they turned to charity. they could do penance for their capitalist self-interest at 5% on the dollar. so charity developed out of a desire for  (and as a means of) doing  penance, not as a method (or a desire)  to help the less fortunate or solve social problems.

framed this way, it’s easy to see why there can exist an inherent conflict in the act of giving as we have come to understand it. it would, in fact make sense that our philanthropy puts the emphasis on the wrong syllable, so to speak.

what would it look like and how would it feel to step out of this giving legacy?

dan pallotta: the way we think about charity is dead wrong
April 20, 2013

in a recent and fabulous TED talk, dan pallotta spoke about many aspects of giving i will visit in my posts. i highly recommend anyone concerned about philanthropy and/or solving issues of health, hunger and poverty listen and take heed:

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong.html

i will be posting about pallotta’s take on:

  • why we see philanthropy the way we do
  • morality vs. frugality
  • the potential for our generational legacy

stay tuned….