It’s conventional wisdom in the world of charitable giving: Good nonprofits spend as little as possible on overhead. Donor dollars, the thinking goes, are best spent on a nonprofit’s charitable mission, not on administration and fund-raising To Dan Pallotta, that’s ludicrous.
As the head of a rebellious Cambridge nonprofit called the Charity Defense Council, Pallotta has insisted for years that nonprofits should adopt a more corporate model of doing business. That includes spending more on themselves, an expense traditionally viewed by donors and watchdog groups as wasteful.
Now he’s taking his argument to the masses. Along major roadways in the Boston area, including the Southeast Expressway, Interstate 95, Interstate 495, and Route 1, the Charity Defense Council — its motto is “We fight for the people who fight for the people” — recently put up billboards that read, “Don’t ask if a charity has low overhead. Ask if it has big impact.”