Taking Dan Pallotta a Step Further
Dan Pallotta says a lot of shocking things about charity. His message about our attitude towards the charitable sector flies in the face of a lot of accepted wisdom. And yet – when you really think about it, it makes sense.
Except… there are elements of it that I agree with only conditionally; they make sense only under certain assumptions. As we listen to Dan’s words, here are some things I think we have to keep in mind:
Dan says: charity should spend more on marketing and advertising.
I agree, IF: the money is not spent on the same old fundraising tactics we’re all sick of already. There’s a new trend in marketing and advertising. It’s smarter, more sophisticated, more respectful, and more effective. It depends less on mass bombardment and more on targeted messaging. It’s interactive with and responsive to the people it’s trying to reach. It seeks to match the item being advertised with people who genuinely need or want it. It doesn’t rely on cheap emotional manipulation. Only on the condition that investing more money in charitable marketing and advertising will lead to this more advanced, less annoying, more productive form of charity campaigning, am I all for it.
Dan says: more money going to charity is a good thing.
I agree, IF: There is a parallel increase in focus on making charities accountable for the results they produce with that mony. A charitable sector that can demonstrate that it’s making a real difference in the issues we care about is a charitable sector I don’t mind giving more money to. But that means that just getting more cash into its hands isn’t enough. We have to start asking more hard questions, being more aware of what’s happening with the issues. Right now, there’s very little attention paid to that conversation. That desperately needs to change before I’ll feel comfortable giving one penny more to charity.
I suspect that Mr. Pallotta knows all of this. Of course, he has to keep his messaging clean and simple, and he’s chosen to focus on the elements he feels are most crucial. But for us, the audience, this context is important if we are to avoid the idea that he’s simply advocating for a richer sector with permission to bombard us even more than they do now.