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You can change the way charities do business

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 5:34 pm

Think about your favorite charity for a moment. It’s probably struggling to make ends meet.

Unless you’ve got a fortune the size of Warren Buffet’s or Larry Ellison’s (the guy with the flying sailboat), you can’t write a check big enough to solve the problem.

At the end of this article, I’ve got an idea that might make difference. But before I get to that, pause for a moment to hear some ideas about why charities stuggle to keep up.

Dan Pallotta believes we demand too much frugality of charities and not enough performance and innovation. If a business spends millions today to make billions tomorrow, we applaud it and the board gives the CEO a raise. If a charity does that, somebody gets fired.

Darrell Drummond and John Ledbetter believe too much effort is spent on creating new charities and service programs and not enough is given to sustain the ones we already have. They want to see more endowments that spin off income for non-profit organizations and public services.

These are just some of the topics at this year’s Philanthropy Summit, Nov. 12 at Hutchins Street Square.

Pallotta will be the keynote speaker at the summit. He is a renowned leader of charities benefitting AIDS and breast cancer research. You can hear him explain his philosophy on a video accesible at this webpage:

Drummond is a local financial advisor. Ledbetter is a successful farmer and donor to local charities. They are the organzing force behind the summit.

It’s going to be a great event and Drummond and Ledbetter believe it will be well attended by lawyers, accountants and financial planners.

These well compensated professionals make a living helping wealthy clients reduce their taxes through charitable giving. And they will earn “continuing education” credits for attending. So the $200 attendance will create a good return on their investment.

But there are many people, who aren’t going to pay $200 to hear the summit’s message.

Think about Pallotta’s message: We demand too much frugality from those who run charities. If they earn too much or if they spend too much on marketing and overhead, we dismiss them as greedy, imprudent stewards of our gifts.

Many executive directors and hardworking board members will think twice about a $200 seminar.

Drummond and Ledbetter told me they worry about that. They’ve asked some of their donors to give a little extra so they can pass out free tickets to people who work hard local non-profits.

They don’t have enough tickets for every local charity. So we came up with an idea for and Lodi News-Sentinel readers to select who gets the free tickets.

What you can do is send us your reasons for supporting your favorite local charity. The summit organizers will choose among the entries and send out tickets to the groups whose supporters make the best case for them.

Do you love Lodi House? Are you a Boys & Girls Club or a BOBS booster? How do you feel about the Cosumnes River Preserve or the Pregnancy Resource Center?

Perhaps you’re a better photographer than a writer and can tell the story of your favorite charity in pictures.

To boost your group, log on to Newsy Neighbors ( and post an essay, or a photo with a brief caption. The accompanying illustration shows which button to click.

The deadline to post your entry on Newsy Neighbors is October 25.

If you have any difficulties registering on or posting to Newsy Neighbors, call Sara Jane Pohlman at 369-7035.

And here’s a link to the summit’s website:

Your effort could help the staff of your favorite cause take the organization to the next level.

It won’t cost you a dime.