When it comes to nonprofit spending, many donors ask that their money go directly to those who need help and not to those who administer the help.
Internationally recognized speaker and author Dan Pallotta will deliver a much different message to Chattanooga nonprofit leaders when he visits next week, explaining that funding can and should be used to increase capacity and take risks. Pallotta has drawn international praise from the nonprofit community with his message and well-known TED Talk, "The way we think about charity is dead wrong," and now, Venture Foward and the state's Association of Fundraising Professionals southeastern chapter are bringing him to Chattanooga.
Pallotta, who was the founder of AIDSRIDE, will provide training for nonprofit leaders and board members in his "Bolder Board" training at Venture Forward's "Bold Social Impact" conference on Sept. 12. This will be his second time visiting Chattanooga for the conference. Pallotta did not respond to requests for comment.
"Nonprofits are kind of on the gerbil wheel — they just try to make ends meet," said Laura McCann, executive director of Venture Forward. "They can't hire people to build their capacity and so they aren't making the impact they have the possibility of making."
McCann added, "(Pallotta's) message resonated so much with the nonprofits here in Chattanooga that they've asked us to bring him back and this time for a full day of board training."
At last year's conference, Venture Forward — formerly called the Center for Nonprofits — unveiled their new name and look with the message that they are here to advance nonprofits in the community.
The organization receives 60 percent of their funding from the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and helps to train and provide resources to more than 1,600 nonprofit members. Usually, they hold the conference at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga or somewhere with a lower price tag, but McCann said they wanted to make it bigger this year and are holding it at the Chattanooga Convention Center with Pallotta as the keynote.
In his TED Talk, Pallotta discusses how people have historically treated nonprofits and for-profit businesses differently.
"These social problems are massive in scale, our organizations are tiny up against them and we have a belief system that keeps them tiny," he says.
Pallotta continues on, saying nonprofits have been crucified for spending more on things like overhead and advertising yet they are tackling some of the largest issues the world faces today.
"Who cares what the overhead is if these problems are actually getting solved?" he says. "If we can have that kind of generosity — a generosity of thought — then the nonprofit sector can play a massive role in changing the world for all those citizens most desperately in need of it to change."
For a schedule of the day's events and to register visit ventureforward.wildapricot.org/event-2956710.
Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at firstname.lastname@example.org, @Allison_Shirk or 423-757-6651.