In a world where nonprofits are running lean operations, doing without, and looking for ways to save dollars at every turn, this TED Talk is incredibly provocative. Dan Pallotta tells the riveting story of the rise and fall of his organization which raised over $580 Million for breast cancer and AIDS research. He founded the 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer and the AIDS Ride and built a company of 350 dedicated people who were making it happen. They were all summarily laid off on one bleak day. They were labeled “overhead”. Dan is visibly shaken as he describes what happened on that day and why. He says that the media and more broadly, our society, confused morality with frugality.
He says that the world needs nonprofits. He believes, as do I, that these organizations have a profound role to play in addressing the many issues that plague our society and particularly the issues that affect the people around the fringes of our society. He points out that the business sector can address many societal issues but is not incentivized nor motivated to tackle the really thorny issues that plague the sick, the disabled, and the poor.
He talks about philanthropy as the market for love. Since we at BiddingForGood work almost exclusively with charities and nonprofits, we see this up close. We see how many people in the world do, in fact, have a profound yearning to help change the world, to do work that has meaning. But there are big odds stacked against us as we try to accomplish these lofty goals.
Dan believes that our society has a system that attempts to keep nonprofits small. There is a separate rule book for nonprofits. He actually points all the way back to the Puritans to explain why this dynamic is in play in our society today.
He lays out some very compelling arguments for a different kind of thinking. His words are much better than mine. This will be 18 minutes worth spending.