At Bridge: Talk Back to Dan Pallotta

A highlight of last week’s bridge conference for me was the “Talk Back to Dan Pallotta” session with John Thomas and Rob Sheehan. They lead a group of senior fundraisers in a robust discussion on the inspiring Ted talk given by Dan Pallotta, which has had over 2 million views.

In the talk, Pallotta explains how nonprofits are disadvantaged in the areas of compensation, risk, investment and more. So how do we fix these problems? The fundraisers in the room had a lot of good ideas.  Here are just a few: 

-As fundraisers, we need to improve our own ability to make the “return on investment” argument to our boards, CFOs and CEOs. Do we need training in finance speak?

-We talked about whether we should all stop using the pie charts that show how little we spend on overhead.  If it’s clear that focusing on overhead is not the right metric, why are we continuing to reinforce it?  Do we need to kill the pie chart?

-What are the associations we support (AFP, CASE, AHP, DMANPF) doing to address some of the serious issues raised by Mr. Pallotta?  How can we push them to take up these bigger issues rather than focusing on tactics?

-With so many new nonprofit organizations entering the field every year, is it too easy to become a nonprofit?  Should there be a higher bar for entry?  Many in the room thought there should.

-And finally, how can each of us do more to call out the ‘true bad actors’ that commit fraud?

I applaud John and Rob for getting this conversation going at Bridge. Let’s keep it going!


– Posted by Kathy Swayze


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