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Saturday, December 22, 2012


Charity Case by Dan Pallotta - Book review

Charity Case

How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World

By: Dan Pallotta

Published: September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
ISBN-10: 1118117522
ISBN-13: 978-1118117521
Publisher: Jossey-Bass

"We need a civil rights movement for charity - and this book is about how we start one", writes builder of social and charitable movements Dan Pallotta, in his visionary and action oriented book Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World. The author describes how the public's misguided concerns with the management and funding of non-profit organizations has done them and their causes a disservice, and offers a powerful manifesto for transforming the humanitarian sector into a real force for changing the world.

Dan Pallotta recognizes that the crucial first step for charities is to change forever the way people view these beneficial organizations. Instead of being concerned about how charities spend their money, the author offers the alternative approach of thinking in terms of helping the organization achieve its goals. The public's well meaning but misguided concern over charitable overhead and staff salaries, writes Dan Pallotta, actually starves the charity from furthering its cause and creating real change in society.

The author presents the case that the general public must learn that low overhead is counterproductive to the charity, and that a focus on perceived costs results in less available executive talent, fewer resources to do the needed work, less time spent on meeting the goals of the cause, and less of an impact on alleviating the societal problem the organization was created to address.

Dan Pallotta (photo left) understands that the basic ideas held by most people regarding charities, which the author calls the humanitarian sector, is upside down in its perspective. This mistaken perception on the part of the general public, leads to dysfunctional behavior on the part of the charity, reducing its effectiveness in achieving its objectives. To counter this challenge, the author proposes that charities be encouraged to hire the best executive talent available, and to allocate resources to building the organization, to better change the world.

To change the public perception of the humanitarian sector, Dan Pallotta recommends forming an organization to defend and organize the nonprofit sector. This defense organization would be the Charity Defense Council. The strategies for this new organization would include:

* Building an anti-defamation league for charity
* Creating a positive advertising campaign for charity
* Building a legal defense fund for charity
* Enacting a National Civil Rights Act for charity and social enterprise
* Encouraging charities to organize themselves

For me, the power of the book is how Dan Pallotta identifies the challenge faced by the humanitarian sector in the existing public perception, and recommends a series of strategies to transform that public view into one focusing on creating real change in the world. The public fixation on where charities spend their money is demonstrated by the author as doing more harm than good. The organizations are starved for talent and resources, and very restrictive public definitions of where charitable funds should be spent.

The author provides the powerful image of the public supporting expenditure on the soup, but not on the spoon and bowl with which to eat the soup. This public concern is shown to be harming, not only the organization, but actually hindering it from achieving its goals. Dan Pallotta proposes changing that wrongheaded public perception, and actively combating it wherever it springs up in the media, government, or elsewhere. The bold approach presented in this book will change the very nature of the humanitarian sector, and transform the world through their new strength and vitality.

I highly recommend the important and thought provoking book Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World by Dan Pallotta, to anyone within the humanitarian sector, the media, public policy making, elected officials, and business leaders who are seeking a revolutionary approach to strengthening the humanitarian sector and transforming it into a true force for real change in the world. This book will change forever the way you think about nonprofit organizations and their very essential and necessary expenditures.


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