In the Community

New documentary aims to change the perception of charities

STN will host a premiere of the film ‘UnCharitable’ October 26
STN will host a premiere of the film ‘UnCharitable’ October 26

It is a question that has been around almost as long as the idea of charity: How do charitable organizations and nonprofits attract the talent and raise the money they need to be successful while being held to different standards than the for-profit world?

After decades of public debate, a new documentary sets out to explore that issue. “UnCharitable,” based on the 2013 TED talk and subsequent book of the same name by Dan Pallotta, examines the stigma surrounding the financing of nonprofits and how public perception hinders mission-based organizations.

In anticipation of the “UnCharitable” Phoenix premiere hosted by STN in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul Phoenix, the October episode of “It Happens at STN” featured an exclusive screening of the trailer and an in-depth discussion about changing the narrative around investing in the nonprofit industry. St. Vincent de Paul CEO Shannon Clancy, UMOM COO Monique Lopez, and Sheldon Caldwell-Meeks from COX Business joined host Eric Sperling to talk about the reality that nonprofits must operate with a business mentality, regardless of tax status.

“In order for nonprofit programs to be successful and innovative, we have to invest in departments like people operations that are going to recruit top talent in data and evaluation to put measures in place to better understand success, so that an agency can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t,” Lopez said. “As nonprofit leaders, we need to be ready to receive the community’s generosity by making those investments and really getting permission and encouragement to invest in the overhead side of the work that we do.”

Thanks to a generous investment contributed nearly a decade ago, St. Vincent de Paul has been able to put some of those ideas into practice and spend money on things like recruiting top talent and essential marketing.

“Probably the most powerful part of it was just that permission to dream big,” Clancy said. “Sometimes it’s just because we don’t get those investments that allow us to dream big, to take those risks and really be able to push our missions out there. Once we had that, it really changed everything for our organization.”

Caldwell explained how that change in mindset is starting to sink in for philanthropists looking to direct funding toward addressing a specific issue.

“They’re having a broader understanding of how they really have that impact,” he said. “It’s not just saying, ‘I want to fund this program.’ It’s, ‘okay, you’re telling me that the funding for talent or marketing and accounting, all of the things to run a business, are just as important to make that program happen.”

You can watch the full discussion in the video player above.

STN and St. Vincent de Paul are hosting the Phoenix premiere of “UnCharitable” on October 26th at Harkins Theatres | Camelview at Fashion Square. If you are interested in attending this limited seating, private event, please email Debbie Accomazzo at

Watch the full trailer for “UnCharitable” again, here:

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