Charity: 2 – Everything Else: 98

That’s the percent of charitable giving in the US – the most giving nation on earth.

I’ve had a phrase for a few years now. ‘There’s no good reason why we shouldn’t do well out of doing good.’ But it seems that if you want to do good in the world by working for a charitable organisation, your have to make a choice between standard of living and satisfying your instinct to do good.

It’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while now. Amongst the many TED Talks that I have on my phone to listen to while driving, I heard this presentation by Dan Pallotta. In brief, how are charities limited in their effectiveness? Dan has five reasons:

  1. We don’t allow good pay! His example? If you make $50M selling violent video games to kids, you’re a star. If you make $0.5M while curing disease, you’re a leech on society. Figures?
  2. We don’t allow sufficient spending on advertising! How can our messages compete with the messages of commercial organisations if we won’t compete with them on their ground?
  3. We don’t allow risk! We are highly risk averse because if we lose charitable donations, we are reckless and our characters come into question.
  4. We don’t allow time for development! Long-term scale-building that doesn’t immediately deliver to those in need is just not allowed.
  5. We don’t allow profit! So therefore, we can’t gain venture capital in the cause of good.

It’s a compelling argument: Dan goes into detail about how this came about and what the consequences are. If you want the .mp3 for your own phone, you can get it here. Or, if you want to watch Dan as he speaks, then head over to

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