Conventional Wisdom On Fundraising Must Change – Dan Pallotta
Thursday, 1st March 2012 at 12:35 pm
Photo credit: Angela Holland
Society’s Not for Profit ethic denies the sector the critical tools that the for-profit sector freely uses to its own advantage, according to controversial key note speaker Dan Pallotta at the FIA’s 35th Annual International Fundraising Conference today on the Gold Coast.
On his first visit to Australia, Pallotta delivered the keynote speech saying he dares to challenge the status quo and goes where other fundraisers fear to tread.
Pallotta tackled the myth that charities with low overheads are efficient. He argues the only efficiency that matters is the efficiency associated with impact.
“When you hear that 95 per cent of your charity dollars is going to the cause, you think that your money isn’t wasted. But how do you know? How do you know the organisation isn’t wasting the 95 per cent that goes to the cause? As that is where most of the money is flowing, that’s actually where the greatest opportunity for waste exists,” Pallotta said.
“We take huge pride in giving to charities with low overheads without knowing a damned thing about whether they’re any good at what they do.”
Pallotta says fundraisers should stop saying charities with low ratios are efficient. “Efficient at what?” he asks. “Fundraising?”
“We blame capitalism for inequities in our society, but we refuse to allow the non-profit sector to use the tools of capitalism.”
Pallotta says that the for-profit sector creates wants and desires we didn’t know we had, while the Not for Profit sector has to create desire and demand for philanthropy.
He argues that charitable programs are at the centre of the universe, while fundraising should be at the centre of the universe.
Pallotta closed his address with the statement that fundraisers need to return to the things that motivated them to get into this industry in the first place.
He went on to say: “I don’t like the term non-profit,” he quipped. “To me, that means not productive.”
“We work in an honourable profession and can lead the world to a place that it doesn’t think it can get to. We can live in the most exciting times and achieve the most remarkable things,” he said.
Dan Pallotta is a builder of movements and founder of Pallotta TeanWorks, which invented the multi-day AIDSRides and Breast Cancer 3-Days, and changed the fundamental paradigm for civic engagement in and fundraising for important social causes.
Pallotta is the author of Uncharitable: How Restraints on Non-profits Undermine their Potential, which The Stanford Social Innovation Review in the US says “deserves to become the non-profit sector’s new manifesto”.
Pallotta is the founder and Chief Humanity Officer for Advertising for Humanity, a full-service brand and inspiration agency for the humanitarian sector. He is also founder and President on the Charity Defense Council, am member of the board of Triangle and a member of the Reason Project Advisory Board.
He is a William J. Clinton Distinguished Lecturer and has spoken at Stanford, Wharton, Harvard Business School, Harvard’s Hauser Centre for Non-profits, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Tufts University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, and the Milken Institute among others.