When people have enough money to live comfortably, they usually feel ready to give back. Money is great to getting folks to a place of contentment. But at a certain point, there comes a craving to do good. People want afford others who may be less fortunate with the same opportunities this money has awarded them.  Especially for those who come from less privilege than others – whether it’s their socioeconomic background, race, sexual identity, physical handicap, or other factors that have determined their “success” in life, sharing money with valuable nonprofits and charities usually seems like the best way to improve society and spread privileges.

But what if everything we know about charity is dead wrong? This is what Dan Pallotta has to say in his groundbreaking 2013 Ted talk.

Palotta begins his talk on the topic of social entrepreneurship and change. He then focuses on charity, claiming that the ways that we have been taught to think about giving and sharing are actually undermining the causes we love.

He narrows down five areas of discrimination. First, charity cannot use money to lure talent away from the for-profit sector. Second, charity’s advertising will never beat the scale of the for-profit sector, which is how consumers are accustomed to buying into new products and ideas. Third, it’s too risky to try to attract the same customers as the for-profit sector, fourth, it’s too time-consuming to try any of the things the for-profit sector does, and fifth, you don’t even have stock to back up these attempts.

Did you know that charities have to spend money that gets donated toward advertising? No one likes to donations spent on advertising in the charity sector; there are more important things to address than making promotional materials. 

What Palotta emphasizes, and what all non-profit-oriented individuals should try, is to disregard the economic scale of these groups in exchange for recognition of their social and moral impact. How badly are they trying to change the world, even if they don’t have the best fiscal structure in place? If we get future generations to care about the work at the core of non-profits, the economics will follow.