Shattering the Nonprofit Myth- From Begging to Sustainability

Uncharitable, by Dan Pallotta, challenges the traditional charity think most nonprofits adhere to. Unlike other books of this genre, which advise on ways to improve nonprofit performance, Uncharitable shatters prevailing myths. I was in production for a McCuistion TV taping, on philanthropy and new methods of acquiring sustainability and coincidentally Dan Pallotta was in town, speaking to Dallas Social Venture Partners. Of course I had to meet and interview him!

Dan Pallotta & Niki McCuistion - UncharitableBelying his ‘revolutionary” work, Dan exudes a soft spoken calmness and confidence. He’s been a success in fundraising for major causes and yet has been “chastised” for his “unconventional” approaches. I asked him, “Dan, in your work, Uncharitable, you state, “you hope your book will give definition to a new cause, the challenge of transforming the very meaning of charity itself… “I mean to create an uprising, a movement that questions all of what we have been taught, every rule, every constraint, every sacred cow- everything and anything that stands in the way of our ability to eliminate suffering and need.”

“Fighting words Dan- and what will it take to change these entrenched mindsets? Is it possible for charities to embrace a more business like way of running their operation?’ Dan’s answer,” The culture does not allow it. We want charities to act more like a business- what we mean is wanting them to do more with less. We want to draw blood from a stone.”

Dan’s work inspired a just released manual, written with my colleague, social enterprise thought leader, Jean Block- The Nonprofit Guide to Social Enterprise: Show Me the Unrestricted Money. We too believe shattering the nonprofit myth is critical if nonprofits are going to succeed in challenging economic times. The manual gives nonprofits specific how to’s to go from charity-think to tax-exempt-business-think. It outlines how to build a “business” model that generates unrestricted revenue and the action plan to achieve sustainability.

He also inspired that TV production – Philanthropy: The Business of Changing the World. The program addressed the necessary evolution nonprofits must explore to achieve sustainability. These are critical times for nonprofits. There are more needs with fewer resources capable of addressing them. Government cutbacks, stretched funders, tax considerations, volunteer and employee challenges demand we shatter the nonprofit myth. If nonprofits are to fill the gap created by shrinking resources we must go from “charity think to business think”, strategizing for sustainability, not begging from tapped out resources and continuing to do more with less . Read our new book, jump in and get involved in changing how we do good. Thank you Dan- for the inspiration and those great “fighting words”.

Watch Niki’s Interview with Dan Pallotta discussing Uncharitable