Uncharitable goes where no other book on the nonprofit sector has dared to tread. Where other texts suggest ways to optimize performance inside the existing paradigm, Uncharitable suggests that the paradigm itself is the problem and calls into question our fundamental canons about charity. Author Dan Pallotta argues that society’s nonprofit ethic acts as a strict regulatory mechanism on the natural economic law. It creates an economic apartheid that denies the nonprofit sector critical tools and permissions that the for-profit sector is allowed to use without restraint (e.g., no risk-reward incentives, no profit, counterproductive limits on compensation, and moral objections to the use of donated dollars for anything other than program expenditures).
These double-standards place the nonprofit sector at extreme disadvantage to the for profit sector on every level. While the for profit sector is permitted to use all the tools of capitalism to advance the sale of consumer goods, the nonprofit sector is prohibited from using any of them to fight hunger or disease. Capitalism is blamed for creating the inequities in our society, but charity is prohibited from using the tools of capitalism to rectify them.
Ironically, this is all done in the name of charity, but it is a charity whose principal benefit flows to the for-profit sector and one that denies the nonprofit sector the tools and incentives that have built virtually everything of value in society. The very ethic we have cherished as the hallmark of our compassion is in fact what undermines it.
This irrational system, Pallotta explains, has its roots in 400-year-old Puritan ethics that banished self-interest from the realm of charity. The ideology is policed today by watchdog agencies and the use of “efficiency” measures, which Pallotta argues are flawed, unjust, and should be abandoned. By declaring our independence from these obsolete ideas, Pallotta theorizes, we can dramatically accelerate progress on the most urgent social issues of our time. Pallotta has written an important, provocative, timely, and accessible book—a manifesto about equal economic rights for charity. Its greatest contribution may be to awaken society to the fact that they were so unequal in the first place.
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DAN PALLOTTA founded Pallotta Team-Works, the company that invented the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Day events, which raised over half a billion dollars and netted $305 million in nine years—more money, raised more quickly for these causes than any known private event operation in history. 182,000 people participated in the events. The company had more than 350 full-time employees in sixteen U.S. offices, was the subject of a Harvard Business School case study, and fundamentally re-invented the paradigm for special event fundraising in America.Review:
“Philanthropists and charity execs should read [Uncharitable] to ponder, if judiciously, its lessons.”—Boston Globe
“Pallotta turns on its head the assumption that charity and capitalism should be forever divided. Don't charitable causes deserve the same kind of competitive forces that work to get results in the for-profit sector? Wouldn't social causes be better served if charitable organizations were headed by the kind of bright, aggressive executives that work in the for-profit sector? Pallotta traces the history of nonprofit organizations to Puritan notions of charity and self-denial. He also offers a detailed case study of TeamWorks and other trends in the nonprofit sector that only tweak around the edges of a system that is sorely in need of change if it is to deliver on its mission to improve social inequities or cure diseases. A passionate, thought-provoking look at the nonprofit sector.”—Booklist
“This tome is big-time out-of-the-box thinking that will cause ripples. Yet if you care about charity, it is a must read. While I don't want to lose the volunteer passion and compassion in charitable work, it's high time we confront the fact that, for the most part, this is no longer a bake sale.”—In Los Angeles Magazine
“Mr Pallotta produces quite a lot of both data and logic. If you do not first analyse a fund-raiser's results, how is it possible to judge whether what it spent was justified? He also makes a convincing case for charities to spend far more on advertising, perhaps even selling shares to pay for it. If this makes you queasy, read Mr Pallotta's book. As he says, "To mount a campaign to convert 6 billion people to love--which is essentially the role of charity--takes a lot of money...Raise the capital to promote the idea by offering a return on investment, hire the best people to manage the effort, and run the advertising to spread the word. You beat capitalism at its own game.”—The Economist
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