“Uncharitable” Advice

I recently read the article “We Need to Rethink Fundraising” by Dan Palotta in Harvard Business Review.

Dan is the author of “Uncharitable,” and a leading expert on innovation in the nonprofit sector.

His whole thesis basically stems from the fact that charities need to spend money in order to raise money.  The less an organization invests in fundraising the less it can grow.

He then compares the fundraising budgets of four leading national nonprofits to that of Apple Corp., which spends about 40 times the budget of those four organizations combined for its marketing and admin expenses.

The less it can grow the more human suffering persists.

We have institutionalized a mechanism for insuring the persistence of human suffering and called it “charity.”

It is a compelling argument, and something that should occupy the minds of anybody who is interested in promoting social change in the world.  If you want serious change to occur, then you need a serious investment.

By the same token, I would argue that this is not the sole responsibility of the nonprofit organizations.  If we as citizens want to improve the world, we all need to make that investment.

By now, we should all know about The Giving Pledge, in which the country’s leading Billionaires collectively made a pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes.

Well if all of the Fortune 500 Corporations, such as Apple, took a more proactive approach to philanthropy and to exacting social change, then even a 1% commitment of their $40 billion in revenues could do a whole world of good. And charities wouldn’t have to spend a lot more of their precious resources in order to benefit from corporate gifts and sponsorships.
Perhaps the Fortune 500 or 1,000 Companies should make a commitment to donating a certain percentage of annual revenue to social causes, similar to the individual billionaires. Target and Google currently have a commitment to that effect.
Now that would move the needle.
And it everyone got involved, then it wouldn’t cost the charities an arm and leg to divest more of their precious resources to fundraising.

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