Film criticising charity and private sector ‘double standards’ announced

27 Jan 2023 News

The book cover for Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta

A documentary based on a controversial book about the charity sector will be released in the coming months, its author has announced.

This week, US fundraiser and activist Dan Pallotta announced his film, Uncharitable, is set to be released on streaming services this May.

The documentary is based on his book of the same name, which was released over a decade ago and criticises the “double standards” of what is deemed acceptable for the for-profit sector as opposed to the non-profit sector.

This dichotomy in beliefs actually prevents civil society from achieving its goals, Pallotta argues.

“We have two rulebooks, one for the non-profit sector and another for the rest of the economic world,” he says in the trailer.  

In a TED Talk also based on his book, The Way we Think About Charity is Dead Wrong, Pallotta said these different rules “discriminate against the non-profit sector”.

“We don't like non-profits to use money to incentivise people to produce more in social service. We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people,” he said in the talk.

But we do not feel this way about people who profit while not working to help other people, he said. 

Film ‘liberates charity from its Puritan constraints’

The documentary was directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal. It features actor Edward Norton, chief executive of TED Chris Anderson, chief executive of One Love Foundation Katie Hood and many more leaders in the US charity sector. 

Funded through private donations, the film “will change you” and “everything you’ve ever thought or been taught about charity, giving [and] solving the great problems of human suffering”, its website claims. 

Gary Hart, former United States senator and scholar in residence of the University of Colorado, called the upcoming film revolutionary.

“Challenging hallowed premises is difficult; challenging the foundational premises underlying our understanding of charity is even more so. Dan Pallotta has done exactly that and, in doing so, requires us all to rethink the very nature of what it means to be charitable and how charity actually functions.

“He liberates charity from its Puritan constraints and cogently attaches it to entrepreneurship in a way that should make us all take two steps back and imagine a new philosophy and theory of charity itself. This is nothing less than a revolutionary work.”

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