SVP & Dan Pallotta: We’re About Strategic Giving

May 3, 2013

At last year’s SVP Conference in Portland, SVP Partners were treated to a very informative and inspiring plenary session with Dan Pallotta, author of Uncharitable and Charity Case. Pallotta, who pioneered the multi-day charity event (think Breast Cancer 3-day Walks or AIDS Rides), contends that the way most people think about philanthropic giving is wrong.

At the SVP Conference and in his recent TED Talk, Pallotta challenges the idea of “equating frugality with morality” and says that rather than demanding unreasonably low overhead, we should reward nonprofit leaders and organizations for their accomplishments and help them find ways to grow, expand, and improve on successful programs. And yes, that includes spending money on advertising.

As an advocate for the nonprofit sector, Pallotta has spearheaded the creation of the Charity Defense Council. The Charity Defense Council seeks to be a voice for the nonprofit sector and act as an anti-defamation league. They have defined their five primary functions and are working to find ways to honor the work of accomplished nonprofit professionals and to show the true importance of the sector in the fabric of the American economy.

SVPI board member and SVP Cincinnati Partner, Tom Callinan is aiding in this effort to change minds through his position as the chair of the Charity Defense Council’s anti-defamation committee. In a recent article on Cincinnati.com, Tom points out that “There are 1.2 million nonprofits in the U.S. – and ‘yet the biggest of the watchdog agencies only looks at 7,000 charities.’ All they do is share tax information with you and maybe tell you a little about whether the charity has an adequate board of directors. None of the watchdogs – not Charity Navigator, not the Better Business Bureau, not Charity Watch – does any real research on the effectiveness of a charity’s programs.

But the overhead obsession dominates the public’s view of charities. ‘The public wants every gala dinner and walkathon to send 100 percent of its money back to the cause,’ Pallotta says. ‘But what people don’t realize is that low overhead is not a path to ending world hunger or curing cancer.’”

In his article, Tom Callinan reflects on his direct experience with some of the barriers that nonprofits encounter as he works to get a new nonprofit off the ground. New nonprofits face many of the same challenges as startup business, but rarely have the same opportunities to gain contacts, seek talent, or spread the word about their work. As we think about the level of success we would like to see nonprofits reach, we must also consider how the way we give can help organizations to build out their work and find a ways to have a greater impact on the community.

SVP Partners who attended the network conference last year were very fortunate to hear Dan Pallotta give this rousing talk. If you’d also like to get in on the great opportunities that the power of the network creates, save the date for the 2013 SVP Conference: October 17-19 in Palo Alto.

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Witness the Power of the SVP Network!

December 4, 2012

Diane and Way-Ting at SVP Conference 2012Last month, 7 Partners and staff members represented LASVP at the largest Social Venture Partners conference to date in Portland, OR. The growing SVP network now has over 2,300 Partners in 29 cities around the globe, including the most recent additions to the network Chicago and Bangalore. Over 300 people came together to stretch their thinking and share ideas. There was even a nonprofit delegation from China who was able to join and share how SVP is becoming a global movement.

With almost 20 breakout sessions to attend and hundreds of socially engaged people to meet, SVP Partners were able to make connections and learn more about the power of the network at every turn. Sessions on Innovation in Education, Collective Action, and Financing Social Impact gave an overview of what is happening across the network and the movements that SVPers want to be a part of. In the Excellence in SVP track, Executive Director Diane Helfrey and Partner Way-Ting Chen  (pictured) led a session on the LASVP Impact Framework and the Strategic Planning process to a packed room of people eager to learn from our experience!

Plenary speaker Dan Palotta, author of Uncharitable and Charity Case, provided an update on the Charity Defense Council. The Charity Defense Council seeks to be a voice for the nonprofit sector and act as an anti-defamation league. The organization has been granted 501(c)3 status, built a board, and has defined their five primary functions. SVPI board member and SVP Cincinnati Partner, Tom Callinan is aiding in the effort as well, as the chair of the Charity Defense Council’s anti-defamation committee.

Keynote speaker, Sam Kaner, author of the Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, helped us think about our group interactions and how we can move toward consensus decision making. We learned about the dreaded “groan zone” that is a natural part of true consensus decision-making. The “groan zone” happens when a group finds itself with a number of ideas, opinions, and possible courses of action and must work through the diverse options in order to move toward consensus. Kaner described it as “struggle in the service of integration” and we learned that by helping one another to understand and communicate with each other, we can reach a decision.

On Changemakers Night, we heard firsthand how difficulties, setbacks, and failures lead to innovation. Matt Flannery of Kiva, Jill Vialet of Playworks, and Craig Kielburger of Free the Children all inspired us to keep moving through our own struggles as we stretch ourselves to the next level of impact and unleash our own potential. This trio of speakers gave us real-world examples of people who were lost, who failed, and who weren’t taken seriously, but found the strength to move ahead and create organizations that are making a better world, showing us all that innovation and change are possible.

If you weren’t able to make it to the conference this year, be sure to stay tuned to all of our SVP news and make plans to attend the next annual conference in Silicon Valley on October 18-19. It is a wonderful time to see the power of the SVP network in action and witness the power of coming together to create change in our communities.