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

ISBN: 978-1-118-22448-9
256 pages
July 2012, Jossey-Bass
Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World (1118224485) 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.

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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

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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

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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

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