Dan Pallotta’s Communication Skills Equal Big Win for the NonProfit Sector

Last week Conceptual Communications treated our nonprofit clients to see Dan Pallotta speak at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Famous for his Ted Talk (which is the 15th most commented on Ted Talk in the history of Ted Talks – super cool accomplishment), Pallotta really focused on how the nonprofit industry as a whole needs to adapt its messaging to the public.

I am going to give away the ending by telling you that by the end of his 60-minute presentation, THE ENTIRE audience was totally on-board and in favor of the nonprofit industry as a whole changing their tune and platform.

How did he convince the whole audience in one hour that the nonprofit industry needs a new platform? Dynamic communication skills my friends. Here is the breakdown:

First, Pallotta set the tone by discrediting the famous “out of the box” phrase.

Second, he identified the problem: Nonprofits are not seen as entities where it is “ok” to invest in compensation, marketing or basically anything considered as “overhead.”

Third, Pallotta provided proof – the level of charitable giving in the U.S. has remained stagnant for decades.

Fourth, he provided a solution: The Charity Defense Council.

Synopsis of the Dan Pallotta “NonProfit” TED Talk

Pallotta methodically laid out a nonprofit “rule book” that highlighted five areas which are consistently leaving the whole nonprofit industry at a disadvantage in comparison to the private and public sectors.  And these five areas are:

1)   Compensation

2)   Advertising & Marketing

3)   Taking risk in new revenue

4)   Time

5)   Profit to attract risk capital

Some may ask – well how does Pallotta know that the whole industry needs a new platform? As proof, he dropped this statistic – for the past decade, charitable giving has remained at approximately 2% of America’s GDP.  Pallotta exposed one major issue with the messaging in the nonprofit sector: donors are programmed to be so concerned with how much of their donation, efforts etc. go toward “the cause” as opposed to overhead.

Pallotta made the perfect analogy with his example of buying shoes. He asked, ”when we go into a store to buy shoes, do we ask the salesperson for the shoes with the least amount of overhead, no we don’t.”

The nonprofit industry is really no different from the for-profit industry when it comes to one simple principle: Investment in results leads to positive ROI.  Meaning if a nonprofit, company, product, hospital etc. doesn’t invest in its messaging, advertising, staff, etc. it can’t and will not yield positive results.

If you are one of the following types of people you should definitely watch Dan Pallotta’s Ted Talk.

1)   A person who is impressed by dynamic communication/presentation skills

2)   A person who cares about seeing the nonprofit world up its game

3)   A person who just cares J

“Our generation does not want its epitaph to read, ‘We kept charity overhead low.’ We want it to read that we changed the world” – Dan Pallotta


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