Dan Pallotta created two huge charity initiatives — AIDS Rides bicycle journeys and Breast Cancer 3-Day events. These initiatives raised $108 million for HIV/AIDS and $194 million for breast cancer. Both had their best years in 2002 … and then Pallotta’s nonprofit went out of business.
In the final session of TED2013, Pallotta shares why that happened: Major sponsors pulled out following a slew of bad press over the idea that his organization was investing 40% of their gross into recruitment and customer service. The backlash came from our basic — and wrong — cultural understanding of charity.
“What we know about charity and the nonprofit sector is undermining the causes we believe in and our desire to change the world,” says Pallotta. We expect businesses and nonprofits to use “two separate rulebooks,” he suggests.
I want people to consider themselves a philanthropist no matter how much or how little they are giving. Even if you are giving $25, you are still a philanthropist. I advise people to figure out what cause they want to have an impact on, and take time doing research to find out the organization they feel is doing the best work on that problem. Then, make them your charitable partner for life. Continue to follow their progress, continue to learn about them, and continue to invest in them. You make a lot of inquiries before you buy a car or before you cast your vote for president – do the same thing before you cast your vote for a charity with your contribution.