Charity isn’t about donating money. Most non-profits are highly commended for their cause, but very few people explore the actual impact and action taken by the organizations they support. In a TED talk, activist and AIDSRide founder Dan Pallotta explains why the double standard of charity is wrong and offers advice on what people can do to hold organizations more accountable.

Pallotta’s talk is grounded in the notion that charity is not about morality alone; people who associate the amount of money or their willingness to donate with how in tune they are with the world and its problems completely miss the mark. Organizations should not be constructed simply to funnel money from willing people’s pockets and distribute a small portion of it to a good cause.

Instead, Pallotta believes that charity should be rooted in action, advocacy, and awareness. By creating bigger goals and holding charities to higher expectations, Pallotta believes that people can change the world.

The Market for Love

In his talk, Pallotta says, “Philanthropy is the market of love.” So many philanthropists are known only for their large contributions and distinguished titles, but what is the heart of the word and its ultimate purpose? You do not have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist. Anyone who makes a difference and changes the world can be considered a philanthropist to a degree, but Pallotta takes things a step further and stresses why non-profits need to be taking a greater part in the causes they support.

Pallotta says that viewing charities separate from the rest of the business industry is a fundamental mistake. If non-profit organizations exist as their own entity, outside of the same social system that is causing so much poverty, suffering, and other injustices, how can they genuinely make a difference?

In order to be more effective, these organizations need to become integrated into the fabric of the very system they want to counteract. He explains that too many people shun non-profits for requesting donations or financial support while they have no problem condoning the same behavior from non-charitable companies.

Making a Difference

Businesses that sell harmful products to children make millions and are commended for their successful model, while organizations that request funding for a valuable cause are chastised by the public.

In order to create a better world, people must begin to look at the financial aspect of charity and understand how its funding can influence the world. Rather than perceiving individual contributions as the lifeforce of change, Pallotta encourages the general public to see how investment, employment, and integration could transform how charities do business and what they can accomplish.