Publications & Products
Volume 2, Issue 2

Spend Money to Make Money

Dan Pallotta, nonprofit guru and keynote speaker at the upcoming CASE Conference for Community College Advancement, says community colleges should significantly invest in fundraising.

"There's this pretty fundamental inaccuracy that spending on fundraising is to be minimized as much as possible so that more money can go to the end purpose," Pallotta says. "There's this fallacy that it's a zero-sum game—that if more money is spent on overhead that there'll be less money for the organization. That's just not true."

Pallotta knows a lot about nonprofit sector innovation and pioneering social entrepreneurship. The founder of Pallotta TeamWorks, he invented the multiday AIDSRides and Breast Cancer 3-Days. These two events have raised more than $583 million in nine years—which he says is more money raised more quickly for these causes than any private event operation in history. The events garnered more than 3 million donors.

Speaking recently with Community College Advancement News, Pallotta says he believes that community colleges can learn a tactic or two from his work with charitable organizations. Among his mantras: don't worry about spending on overhead.

Pallotta—author of the upcoming book Charity Case: How the Nonprofit Community Can Stand Up For Itself and Really Change the World—says that development officers in higher education face the same issues and challenges as other nonprofits. He says most community colleges are too timid about lobbying their superiors to further fund and staff their operations.

"It's an important thing to invest in fundraising, any way you slice it," Pallotta says. "The fact that you've got a small budget, that's all the more reason to grow your fundraising. Until you've met with every single alumnus who's capable of giving money, you still haven't spent enough. You ought to be able to hire a ... person who's capable of raising a half million dollars. You should keep hiring ... people until that formula stops working."

Pallotta says community colleges may actually have a leg up on some of the charitable organizations he typically works with. He says community colleges may not have to spend as much time educating potential donors about the value of their institution as charities that help fund research for a rare disease.

Pallotta will speak more about how he believes the nonprofit sector—including educational institutions—is being "undermined by a rulebook that prevents it from tasking risks, investing in the long-term, using financial incentive and raising risk and growth capital" at the Conference for Community College Advancement in October.

Please share your questions and comments with Marc Westenburg via email at or +1 202 478 5570.

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This article is from the August 2012 issue of the Community College Advancement News.


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Largest Gifts to Community Colleges
The CASE InfoCenter compiled this list of gifts and pledges valued at $10 million or more to community colleges. (Member login required.)

Conference for Community College Advancement
Oct. 3 - 5, 2012
San Diego, Calif.

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