The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

  • Published on Mar 11, 2013
  • Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend -- not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world.
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Comments • 1 169

  • dogus polat
    dogus polat 13 days ago

  • Drk RE
    Drk RE 24 days ago

    This guy is full of of s**t:

    (1) The reason poverty is "stuck" at 12% is because the term 'poverty' is a moving target !
    (2) The reason charity giving is "stuck" at 2% is because that is what the public judge they can GIVE AWAY. If one charity spends extra advertising money to increase its share of the pie then another charity is likely to get less, the pie doesn't get bigger because in reality there is no product being bought in exchange for the money given. So is that aggressive advertising good ? No, the total net money available for all charities goes down because of the increase in those advertising expenses.

    (3) Is it ethical to use slick advertising and high pressure "chugger" tactics to manipulate the public into giving money that they can't afford ? Obviously not, but this is already happening and it is what Mr Pallotta is pleading to increase.
    (4) People should have senior charitiy jobs NOT as a life long career but as a 5 year period where they DON'T earn a market salary, then they can go forward after the role in their charity (with that charity job a big plus on their CV) into the free market to earn free market salaries. They can then give money and sit on the board dictating to the new CEO(s) of the charity if they so wish.
    (5) I'm sorry to burst his bubble but you don't gamble with the money given to a charity because people in need depend on that money.

    This guy is EXACTLY the sort of person who shouldn't be running a charity...
    (Edit for spacing)

  • Travel like a mum
    Travel like a mum Month ago

    Converted to his point of view, it makes so much sense and cant believe I didn't see it before. Well done!

  • Month ago

    All people need to Groove! Groovism will instigate the solution!!!

  • Vijay Kumar Machcha
    Vijay Kumar Machcha Month ago +3

    I could feel the emotion and sincerity with which he had reasoned out the 'real problem' of all problems. Amazing talk.

  • Majime
    Majime Month ago

    oh I do not like this guy or is his speech. he is blaming charity woes on Puritans and capitalism in the first few minutes. I think he neglected to mention that America are biggest as the worlds biggest and first responders in disaster relief, that America has the vast majority of charities in the top 50 in the world. then he shows a pie chart that shows we are donating religiously and disapproves. look up the top 50 charities in America, with the most credentials in financial health, accountability and transparency, the majority of them ARE Christian charities who are biggest in health and human services feeding children, pulling kids out of prostitution, placing them into orphanages.
    his complaint is the inherit evils of Christian puritans and their not for profit "mediocre" charities. actually Charity navigator ranked rotary and Mathew 25 ministries the first two of the top 10 charities they are religious and not for profit they have the most credentials in terms of their financial contributions to the problems they are dedicated to solving.
    non profit capitalist charities outperforms communist for profit charities every single time in every dimension

  • Care Cup
    Care Cup Month ago

    Ever since I became a classic liberal I realize that charities should be for profit. People need to stop equating profit to greediness and exploitation. Profit is what makes things work and what incentivizes people. Non-profit charities suck because they're not for profit.

  • Lorn Ocford
    Lorn Ocford Month ago

    The problem is the idea that philanthropy is the same for everyone. It isn't. The wealthy including businesses are supposed to give their money because that is what they have plenty of. Most people should not be asked for or expected to give money to charity. For most people care is shown by sharing the recourses they have and have to use for themselves anyway: inviting someone to your home to share its heat so they can leave their home unheated that day and then return the favour another day; swapping home-grown produce with neighbours; inviting people to dinner where company and sense of community means people don't feel lonely and can survive on less food because they get more love. There are so many ways that people can be there fore each other, but charity has been depersonalised and made into a business. When wealthy people spend lots of money on charity dinners for fund raising, that's fine, they would be going to dinner anyway, they're not actually giving anything up. When the average person is asked to give the money they would have spent on going out for dinner to someone else because they are going hungry, that isn't fair. We do need to rethink our attitudes to charity. We need to look at the fact that most charities should not be charities in the first place but are actually social injustice and that giving financially is for those who have plenty of finances.

  • moe moe hla
    moe moe hla 2 months ago

    How did you spend that 71 million dollars, that what I am interested.

  • moe moe hla
    moe moe hla 2 months ago

    So many fallacy in this speech. Video game they used investor money. You guys are using donor's money.

  • moe moe hla
    moe moe hla 2 months ago

    Finding cure for cancer is medical industry's job. Charity job is to take care of the un-lucky one. No wonder they wasted millions.

  • Kevin Andrews
    Kevin Andrews 2 months ago

    This works if there was no other charity causes. That overhead that it's CEO's made could've been given to other charities. Many people tend to only donate a limited amount of their income and stop after donating so much, so there's a potential finite amount of capital going to charities, especially if there is no tax credit, you can count out a lot of the wealthy. If more of that finite capital goes to overhead, then there really is less going to causes. Plus there is a lack of transperancy in for-profits and once you involve a marketing team, they can really skew the results of their "help". It might work, but there are a lot of caveats to switching charities to for-profits.

  • Yari B
    Yari B 2 months ago

    If any of you are feeling generous and want to, or find it in your heart to donate a little something for a very special person to have school supplies for kids. Please do so, if you want at cash app $Berrios201

  • envie allen
    envie allen 2 months ago

    410billion dollars was raised in 2017 ... no problems were fixed... money is not the solution charities dont work if you want to make a difference in the world find another way

  • Private JSH
    Private JSH 2 months ago

    Please take a look:

  • Tonatiub
    Tonatiub 2 months ago

    "hurr fictional violence bad"
    into the trash it goes, way to expose himself as an out of touch coot

    • Sean Clahane
      Sean Clahane 18 days ago

      as a gamer i see your point, but i also see his. video games do not cause violence (i even THINK it was proven to reduce the stress that causes violence) but many violent history points such as ww2 gave birth to video games such as call of duty, so i like to say video games do not cause violence but violence causes video games. the point he was trying to make was that the tipple a game developers do tend to be greedy. they tend to think about themselves and how they can make a bigger profit like Bethesda game studios with their fallout 76 "canvas bags" which of course was swapped after marketing for a plastic bag for those unfortunate enough to pre-order it.

  • Cheeseburger Forever
    Cheeseburger Forever 2 months ago +1
    Hey guys check out this shortfilm that the kids did on charity!!

  • Sweeneytv
    Sweeneytv 3 months ago +1

    Look. He is totally right. Lots of people need to hear this.
    I think rather than think of your donation going to directly help one person. Think instead your money is going to the non profit so they can use it efficiently for how they need it. That’s just as good.

  • Lyuben Dimitrov
    Lyuben Dimitrov 3 months ago

    Hi, friends! I have been diagnosed with testicular cancer(embryonal carcinoma) in 2009 when I was 22. Since then I suffered 3 surgeries and 8 courses of chemotherapy. Luckily my child was born in 2017 after IVF. He deserves a better life as any other kid. If you have enough for charity please send some bitcoins to the following address!

  • stonescorpio
    stonescorpio 3 months ago +3

    This presentation had a lot of "...oh" moments for me. I've definitely been guilty of the "overhead = bad/evil/greedy/inefficient" way of thinking.

  • Alberto R. De Souza
    Alberto R. De Souza 3 months ago

    Nova New Opportunities is a charity that is worth donating for ,

  • Dragon Fist
    Dragon Fist 4 months ago

  • Pimp without the pee
    Pimp without the pee 4 months ago

    Okay, look, I totally understand all the talk about overhead and not stumping any company in its dreams and hopes to become big. But it's just that there is so much money! Charities have gotten such a bad name because of the billions that are said that are needed to solve certain problems such as say, clean water for everybody, yet we passed those billions so many times and guess what, still no clean drinking water for everybody. There is a major flaw in the way greedy bigger corporations and individuals that are for-profit are handling to become the richest ever. Not only do they take what, in their sense, they earned, but they actively work against people who DO want to do good and help others in a way they don't even see themselves.

  • Rezhwan Kamal
    Rezhwan Kamal 4 months ago +13

    Not many TED talks manage to completely change my perspective on a topic. This one did.

  • Mark Yuman
    Mark Yuman 4 months ago

    A very important topic that needs genuine solutions. But, I was disappointed that you didn't address the elephant in the room: Donors are skeptical of dollars that don't go directly to beneficiaries due to the perceived prevalence of charlatans in the charities industry - liars & thieves. Find a way to remove the specter of that lack of confidence -- secure their investment in humanity -- there's your social innovation. What sophisticated social investor is so naive to think there aren't grifters who will prey on her altruism?

  • moa spindari
    moa spindari 5 months ago

  • Threelly AI
    Threelly AI 5 months ago

    So hyped...

  • Austin Mercado
    Austin Mercado 5 months ago

    He misrepresents Puritans and Calvinists in his speech....

  • Rotary Club Of Great Neck

    Nailed it.

  • Master Oogway
    Master Oogway 6 months ago


  • Pamela Homeyer
    Pamela Homeyer 6 months ago

    Charities are mostly being held back because so many of them are crooked or used by Crooks to launder money when you fix that in which you will be able to advertise or use more for advertisement. It doesn't take much to taking to figure out how my mother's generation and my generation or discouraged by the Red Cross and some of the other problems that exist now like the Trump organization charity. Fix that and you'll fix your problem

  • Catherine S. Todd
    Catherine S. Todd 6 months ago

    Ask about what they have accomplished, not just "their dreams." Correct about overhead for bringing in more money, though. We just don't need 'overhead" to include limousines and private jets!"

  • Catherine S. Todd
    Catherine S. Todd 6 months ago

    Donating to breast cancer research is futile as long as cancer-causing agents were "grandfathered" in by the FDA into all our health and beauty products, including birth control pills, hair dye, makeup, underarm deodorants (aluminum right by your breast: any wonder why?) and more. And lobbyists for Revlon and more got their dangerous cancer-causing ingredients IGNORED. What a waste!

  • CoachellaValley CopWatch

  • Adha Ujang
    Adha Ujang 6 months ago

    As someone who works at a non profit sector, I understand this as much, and this is very saddening

  • Thor
    Thor 7 months ago +3

    It's strange to see people demonise the most effective engine of prosperity aka capitalism. Socialism sounds good on paper but only capitalism has the skill and the will to solve the world's greatest problems.
    Sure it can go a little out of hand at times, but that's why we have checks and balances on the way.
    We should celebrate our entrepreneurs, because they are the only ones who are willing to risk it all for their dreams. Kudos to this man.

    • Magic of Alvin Lui
      Magic of Alvin Lui 7 months ago +1

      I couldn't agree more. Up till the last 20 years we looked up to people who were successful. Today that is demonized. But that makes sense, if young people strive to create and earn, they can't be manipulated to vote for socialism.

  • Arturo Ferrer
    Arturo Ferrer 7 months ago +3

    This is true when successful but money can be thrown in high salaries and advertisers of "my friend-relative" company as I saw in many ONG's

  • Informative Ark
    Informative Ark 7 months ago

    Hy guyz i am working for the welfare of poor people in developing countries , such people who have not cash to buy food even one time daily. They hardly eat food 4 to 5 times in a weak. I am running WO welfare organizations. Plz help such poor people with a single penny or any amount you can easly afford. So that they get food to eat. God Bless you.
    You can deposit in account no below
    Standard chartered pk

  • Collective Change
    Collective Change 7 months ago

    Anyone recommend any feel-good charity videos?

  • Robert Pearce
    Robert Pearce 8 months ago

    Excellent talk. A lot of points in there about how we perhaps rethink how charity works.
    I am not without my reservations though, with my biggest one being the proportion spent on overheads: When a charity gets a donation from someone, it generally comes at the expense of a donation to another charity. So if you are going to increase the proportion you spend on overheads, and take donations away from charities with smaller overheads, then you should ensure that you are either inspiring new generosity where there was none before, or working that money harder to provide more results per dollar, so as to offset the loss to other charities. Not impossible, but I think important to consider.

  • Malcolm Berry
    Malcolm Berry 8 months ago

    Hands down the best TED talk I’ve seen thus far

  • yassin farid
    yassin farid 8 months ago +2

    This is one of my lovable TED talks of all time.

  • Siedah Robinson
    Siedah Robinson 9 months ago +1

    80% of the people in these comments missed the point. Bottom line: Nonprofits are limited in its effectiveness because systems are not set up to allow nonprofits to reinvest or compete for talent.

  • Mornieluvya lastname
    Mornieluvya lastname 9 months ago

    Let's put our money towards nonprofit organizations. For a greater purpose of loving humanitarian sakes. Your donations makes a differences. Live a life full of purpose, love and lights.😁👍I’d rather see a bigger nonprofit organizations then the other way around.😁 Thank you Ted.

  • Nguyễn Minh Tiến
    Nguyễn Minh Tiến 9 months ago


  • Ronar Prefect
    Ronar Prefect 10 months ago +1

    This talk completely missed the truth. Normal people don't give to charity because they don't have money to give to charity due to capitalist jerks like this one exploiting them so heavily by paying them so much less than their work is worth so they can profit off of the sweat of others. Normal people are struggling just to keep bills paid and are giving most of their money to necessities--the prices of which have been jacked up by the out-of-control government and "federal" reserve devaluing the currency and causing inflation while their wages don't go up commensurate with that inflation. This means that--even if the number of dollars they get paid went up a little--the actual buying power they receive from their jobs went down. Normal people--who might barely be able to spare something for a charity because of the shitheads stealing from them via low wages and the other shitheads stealing from them via the unconstitutional printing of our "money" by an international banking cartel called the "federal reserve" instead of by our congress--don't want any of that money going to people just like those shitheads. They want it going to the people they were actually trying to help. 70% overhead is too much. 30 or 40 percent of donations going to the actual cause is ridiculous. Finally, people who care enough to donate aren't doing it because of fucking advertising so a huge advertising budget doesn't actually make sense. If you want donations from normal people to go up--and that is where donations would mostly have to come from--then raise the wages of normal people to actual livable levels and stop robbing them of most of the value of their work just so some CEO can make several hundred million a year.

  • Dumitru Langham
    Dumitru Langham 10 months ago


  • Pody Mouths
    Pody Mouths 10 months ago

    We discuss what charities are good and which one's aren't and how to make an educated decision on this weeks episode of, Pody Mouths :

  • audsims16575
    audsims16575 10 months ago

    Calvinism will be the fall of America.

  • Rebekah Levy
    Rebekah Levy 10 months ago

    This is SO sad. Yes, it makes huge sense in our current mutational form of capitalism (which is only a form/bandwidth of consciousness concerning collectively-attributed "value" to things and to time)...but it completely skirts the enormous "elephant" crowding the room, which is capitalism itself, which is relentlessly commodifying EVERYTHING, now including generosity and lovingkindness. In the same way as our current president, who experiences politics as a mere series of deals to "win" at, while somebody else has to "lose." The minute we make CONSCIENCE (Intellect+EMOTIONAL consciousness) a commodity we label ourselves permanent adolescents who refuse to grow up ("Oh, the Market will make everything okay"--i.e., Mommy and Daddy will save us when we drive stoned and crash the car.). So this nice smart talk is just symptomatic of our collective hypnotic state IMO, while the REAL problem to solve--which needs much smarter minds--is how can we make ourselves into a truly sustainable species in which we ALL get to live decently if we put in a day's work...

  • Aleksandra Ratushniak
    Aleksandra Ratushniak 10 months ago

    Hello guys! Did you know that actiTIME is helping dozens of nonprofits around the world to manage time, projects and volunteers in the most efficient way? Check it out:

  • Hygge Musings
    Hygge Musings 11 months ago

    I am in road safety, if motorists failed to pay their parking fines or had a conviction, for speeding, would this be likely to be refused?

  • BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising

    This single video changed our way of thinking. The problem today is that charities act in a way that is completely counterproductive to their growth and especially their fundraising activities.

  • Pat Pollute
    Pat Pollute 11 months ago

    Charity Starts At Home Just donate directly..and CUT out the greedy management/administration.

  • Helen Alford
    Helen Alford 11 months ago

    I think he makes some great points but it assumes capitalism isn't problematic in the first place and can easily be applied to the charitable sector. For example, should any CEO be paid millions annually when it's workers (who put in 40 hours of hard work a week or more) are living hand to mouth? I suppose we expect that the CEO of a charity will show good standards.

  • Jerry VanNuys
    Jerry VanNuys 11 months ago

    When you start talking about "Overhead", I got it. It takes money to run any organization.
    But when you google the 1000 worst charities in america, they all use 99% to 100% of the donations received for "overhead".
    They justify this by claiming their mission is to bring "awareness" to the issue, and not actually rectify it.
    You've got to get almost 10,000 charities into the list before it breaks the 50/50 point between overhead to actual dispersion of money and materials.

  • Anon Mason
    Anon Mason 11 months ago

    Isn't this the CSI guy?

  • Angie Absten
    Angie Absten 11 months ago

    All fundraising should be how to detox our planet as that is the reason we are ill. Pharmacy & vaccines are sabotage & disease promotion due in part to pollution. Cholesterol, osteoporosis, steroids, antibiotics, psych drugs all chemicals are inflammatory as all artificial.

  • Calys Agora
    Calys Agora 11 months ago

    This talk could have been titled "Why socialism never works" xD