What is the RIGHT Question?

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 All charitable organizations MUST begin to provide information about the impact we are having in the community. We must tell the story of what really changes because of what we do.

Dan PallottaWe must talk about the difference we make - and learn to talk about the quality and the quantity of that difference. Or Joe and Josephine Public will continue to think the important measurement is how much it costs us to do our business. That is the story others choose to tell about us. Therefore the generous, amazing people who give money think that is the right question to ask. We have to tell the right story - so the generous giving people know the right question to ask.

Vantage Point is excited to be working with Dan Pallotta to have him come and speak to multiple groups in Vancouver in November. He imagines a different way. Dan outlines his message in his book, Uncharitable, which questions the status quo and the way we have always worked. Dan talks about the puritanical roots of the charitable sector and how so much of that thinking has not worked well for us in the last centuries. We know most of us work diligently to make our communities strong - with clear focus and great passion. And there are many contributors out there who want to work with us.

This week CBC tells the story of how much money charitable organizations pay fundraisers to attain those financial resources. Is that really the story? The truth is wonderful people give their hard-earned money to make our communities better. They don't want to pay their money to fundraisers. They always want their money to go directly to the recipient of the service. The contributors - all those wonderful people - have decided that information about fundraising is what matters. That is at least partly because we don't provide other information. Yet, are fundraising costs truly what we care about? What if an organization, through their own amateur efforts, raises $1,000 - and with the assistance of expert fundraising, they raise $10,000? Even if they pay the fundraising organization $5,000, they still have an additional $4,000 - a 400% increase for their organization. They have significantly greater financial resources. They will be able to better achieve their mission. Is that a good business decision? Is that best for our community?

Both Dan Pallotta and CBC are addressing the same issue - and they have different answers. The answers are different because of their perspectives. CBC examines the question from the traditional, puritanical perspective. Dan examines the issue from a place of what works best for community. Ultimately, is the right question how much money the organization spends making money or what difference the organization makes in the community?

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