Print this page Share

Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World

ISBN: 978-1-118-11752-1
256 pages
September 2012, Jossey-Bass
Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World (1118117522) cover image


A blueprint for a national leadership movement to transform the way the public thinks about giving

Virtually everything our society has been taught about charity is backwards. We deny the social sector the ability to grow because of our short-sighted demand that it send every short-term dollar into direct services. Yet if the sector cannot grow, it can never match the scale of our great social problems. In the face of this dilemma, the sector has remained silent, defenseless, and disorganized. In Charity Case, Pallotta proposes a visionary solution: a Charity Defense Council to re-educate the public and give charities the freedom they need to solve our most pressing social issues.

  • Proposes concrete steps for how a national Charity Defense Council will transform the public understanding of the humanitarian sector, including: building an anti-defamation league and legal defense for the sector, creating a massive national ongoing ad campaign to upgrade public literacy about giving, and ultimately enacting a National Civil Rights Act for Charity and Social Enterprise
  • From Dan Pallotta, renowned builder of social movements and inventor of the multi-day charity event industry (including the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days) that has cumulatively raised over $1.1 billion for critical social causes
  • The hotly-anticipated follow-up to Pallotta’s groundbreaking book Uncharitable

Grounded in Pallotta’s clear vision and deep social sector experience, Charity Case is a fascinating wake-up call for fixing the culture that thwarts our charities’ ability to change the world.

See More

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Special Note xiii

1 And You Thought Public Perception of Congress Was Bad 1

2 Build an Anti-Defamation League for Charity 29

3 Create a “Got Milk?” Campaign for Charity 59

4 Build a Legal Defense Fund for Charity 93

5 Enact a National Civil Rights Act for Charity and Social Enterprise 129

6 Organize Ourselves 179

7 You Cannot Stop the Spring 193

Notes 199

Thank You 219

About the Author 223

Index 225

See More

Author Information

Dan Pallotta is a builder of movements. He created the multi-day charitable fundraising event industry, including the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Days, which raised $582 million in nine years and were the subject of a Harvard Business School case study. Multi-day charitable events have raised in excess of $1.1 billion to date. The Stanford Social Innovation Review said his groundbreaking 2009 book Uncharitable deserves to become "the nonprofit sector's new manifesto." He lives in Massachusetts.

For more information, visit www.charitycasebook.com

See More


Check out Dan Pallotta's YouTube Channel here: 




Charity Case is an Apollo program for American philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Pallotta’s understanding of the hamstrung nonprofit sector is poetic and therapeutic. His prescription is sensible and profound. Charity Case will inspire its readers with an expansive sense of possibility.”
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

 “Every once in a while a book states the obvious in such a compelling way that it rises to the level of genius. Charity Case is that exciting. It dares the whole of the charitable industry to raise its voice to the level of the music business and other consumer giants. In its insistence that the industry reject the role of second-class citizen, it has the potential to make charity sexy, and that’s the only way charity’s ever going to change the world.”
—Clive Davis, chief creative officer, Sony Music; founder, Arista Records; former president, Columbia Records

“If we had a prize for the most innovative thinking about charity and social change it would go to Dan Pallotta. Charity Case is the blueprint for unleashing the awesome power of this sector and enlightening the society that unknowingly holds it back. Simply brilliant and in a class by itself.”
—Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation

“Dan Pallotta invites, tempts, and provokes every single one of us to think differently about the humanitarian sector. He has a big vision and artfully makes a case for creating a sector-wide movement capable of power­ful actions and needle-moving change that improve lives. In this rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, Dan’s voice is crisp, clear, and compelling.”
—Diana Aviv, president and CEO, Independent Sector

“Dan Pallotta is a big thinker—impatient, generous, and insightful. It’s worth hearing him out.”
—Seth Godin, author, Tribes

“The nonprofit world needs innovation, and Dan Pallotta is helping us see how new ideas can help make our world more successful. In these tough times, we need his out-of-the-box ideas!”
—Bobby Shriver, cofounder, Product (RED)

Charity Case is visionary in its empathy. It sympathizes with the donating public’s confusion about how charity really works and with the nonprofit sector’s plea to be held to standards that engender trust and grow support. At that intersection lies the promise of a new era of enlightenment about charity and social change.”
—Art Taylor, president, Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance

Charity Case takes innovative thinking about the social sector to an entirely new level. Dan Pallotta raises the radical prospect that we can change cultural conventions about charity, making a cause of causes themselves. A powerful call to action.”
—Jane Wei-Skillern, adjunct associate professor, Haas School, University of California, Berkeley; lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business

“It doesn’t occur to Dan Pallotta that standing on the sidelines is an option. And he makes it impossible for the rest of us to stand back. Charity Case is a wakeup call for every fundraiser around the world. We are the public champions of philanthropy—it’s just that not all of us have been aware of that until now.”
—Andrew Watt, president and CEO, Association of Fundraising Professionals

See More

Press Release

September 05, 2012
Balancing Out The Charity Playing Field

Imagine seeing a full page ad in the paper explaining why charities should spend more money on overhead, and another the next day explaining why charities should be able to lure talent away from gigantic consumer brands with the same lucrative pay packages. A leading expert on non-profits argues that charities will never be able to change the world if they’re not permitted to play at the same level as big business. And the public will never allow it unless the charitable sector starts educating them about missed opportunities.

Dan Pallotta’s provocative new book, CHARITY CASE: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up for Itself and Really Change the World (Jossey-Bass; e-book available: September 10, 2012) is a blueprint for a national leadership movement that will fundamentally alter the way the public thinks about charity. In his previous groundbreaking book, Uncharitable, Pallotta explained how the way we’ve been taught to think about charity is upside-down. We let the for-profit sector use the tools of capitalism while denying non-profits those same tools. No wonder then, that the nonprofit sector can’t move the needle on humanity’s huge social problems. The response Pallotta received to Uncharitable was unanimous: “How do we change this?” 

CHARITY CASE is Pallotta’s answer. In the book Pallotta argues that the humanitarian sector needs its own civil rights movement, and lays out a plan for a new “Charity Defense Council” to lead it. Attacking the problem on five fronts, the council will:

  • Establish an Anti-Defamation League to proactively inform the media and make sure the community is being accurately represented;
  • Launch an aggressive paid public media campaign to cure the public of its hallucinations about how social change gets made;
  • Enact a National Civil Rights Act for Charity and Social Enterprise to give the sector a statutory code custom-designed to help it change the world;
  • Establish a Legal Defense Fund to protect and fight for the civil and constitutional rights of the humanitarian community;
  • Organize the Sector on Behalf of Its Own Issues because, while it organizes people for all manner of other causes, the sector has never organized itself to address the systemic issues that fundamentally undermine it. 

Grounded in Pallotta's clear vision and deep social sector experience, Charity Case is a passionate wake-up call for all of us--whether we work in the philanthropic sector, contribute time or money to critical causes, or simply believe in the urgent need for more progress on social challenges--to help fix the culture that thwarts our charities' ability to make change happen.

See More
Back to Top