Friday, January 30, 2015

Dan Palotta: Messenger of Change

The community conversation was robust yesterday evening and this morning in Norfolk,Virginia.

You could see the ideas swirling as nonprofit heads, funders and board members from southeastern Virginia listened to Massachusetts author/nonprofit activist/Ted talk veteran Dan Pallotta. He spoke on January 29 to about 300 people brought together by the +Academy for Nonprofit Excellence at TCC.

The next morning at a +VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads breakfast Pallotta hit the high points  for about 130 business, nonprofit and funding leaders who then launched into a mini table-by-table visioning process. Cathy Lewis, host of WHRV's HearSay program, helped keep the discussion and ideas flowing as people talked about better collaboration on issues, fewer nonprofit events, clear messaging and a pipeline of board members open to new ways of running nonprofits.

Pallotta's mantra is that the best for-profit business are judged primarily on their impact, which often stems from investments made in their operations, staffing and marketing. He maintains that the traditional standard for measuring nonprofits is having low overhead, which often leads to low impact. Pallotta maintains that nonprofits are rewarded for "not paying anyone, not marketing, not taking risks and not spending money." He wonders how much more effective nonprofits could be in curing cancer and ending poverty if they were allowed to operate like businesses.

Pallotta helped launched the nonprofit +Charity Defense Council to help donors and funders think about what would happen if nonprofits had more tools, funding and incentives. Could they change the world for the better?

You can get a feel for Dan's ideas by watching his 2013 Ted Talk that has already had more than 3.4 million views.

(The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is a regional community foundation started in 1950 as the first community foundation in Virginia. It is among nearly 750 community foundation around the country serving specific geographic regions. It is the largest grant and scholarship provider in southeastern Virginia and manages more than 400 charitable funds created by donors from all walks of life. Over the decades it has provided more than $195 million to improve life for residents living in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, including the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Smithfield, Suffolk and Virginia Beach. It also serves people in Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, including Accomack and Northampton counties. Learn more at You can click here to locate a community foundation near you. )