Balancing Out the Charity Playing Field

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AIDS Ride Creator and Jossey Bass Author Dan Pallotta Writes Manifesto on Lifting the Ties that Bind Nonprofit

Imagine seeing a full page ad in the paper explaining why charities should spend more money on overhead, and another the next day explaining why charities should be able to lure talent away from gigantic consumer brands with the same lucrative pay packages. A leading expert on non-profits argues that charities will never be able to change the world if they’re not permitted to play at the same level as big business. And the public will never allow it unless the charitable sector starts educating them about missed opportunities.

Dan Pallotta’s provocative new book, CHARITY CASE: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World (Jossey-Bass; e-book available: September 10, 2012) is a blueprint for a national leadership movement that will fundamentally alter the way the public thinks about charity. In his previous groundbreaking book, Uncharitable, Pallotta explained how the way we’ve been taught to think about charity is upside-down. We let the for-profit sector use the tools of capitalism while denying non-profits those same tools. No wonder then, that the nonprofit sector can’t move the needle on humanity’s huge social problems. The response Pallotta received to Uncharitable was unanimous: “How do we change this?”

CHARITY CASE is Pallotta’s answer. In the book Pallotta argues that the humanitarian sector needs its own civil rights movement, and lays out a plan for a new “Charity Defense Council” to lead it. Attacking the problem on five fronts, the council will:

  •     Establish an Anti-Defamation League to proactively inform the media and make sure the community is being accurately represented;
  •     Launch an aggressive paid public media campaign to cure the public of its hallucinations about how social change gets made;
  •     Enact a National Civil Rights Act for Charity and Social Enterprise to give the sector a statutory code custom-designed to help it change the world;
  •     Establish a Legal Defense Fund to protect and fight for the civil and constitutional rights of the humanitarian community;
  •     Organize the Sector on Behalf of Its Own Issues because, while it organizes people for all manner of other causes, the sector has never organized itself to address the systemic issues that fundamentally undermine it.

Grounded in Pallotta's clear vision and deep social sector experience, CHARITY CASE is a passionate wake-up call for all of us--whether we work in the philanthropic sector, contribute time or money to critical causes, or simply believe in the urgent need for more progress on social challenges--to help fix the culture that thwarts our charities' ability to make change happen.

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Meredith Stanton
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