What prompted you to write this book?
We all want to alleviate human suffering; to reduce poverty, to feed the hungry, to cure diseases. Around the world, people donate tens of billions of dollars to charity every year toward that end. In our heart of hearts, we want to change the world. But if you look at the big social problems, the needles aren't moving very much - not at nearly the pace we had hoped. Poverty has remained constant at 12% of the population in the U.S. for forty years. AIDS deaths have gone from 1.1 million a year twenty years ago to 1.8 million now. Breast cancer deaths in the U.S. have only gone down by about eight percent in twenty years. In my last book, Uncharitable, I explored why this was the case. And the conclusion I came to was that our problems are much larger than our nonprofits, and our nonprofits are unable to grow to meet their scale because we force charities to operate under a set of rules that prevents it. We don't let charities pay to lure the best talent away from other sectors. We don't want charities to spend money on advertising. We don't want charities to take any of the risks they need to in order to go. All of the freedoms we give to businesses to allow them to prosper we deny to charities.

I gave 150 speeches on this subject in 29 states and seven countries, and after each one people in the nonprofit sector were hungry to know what we could do about this problem - how we could change the way the public thinks about these things so that charities could have the freedom they need to really grow and actually solve problems. So I decided to write a book about it. Charity Case is the result.

What would need to happen in order for charities to have the freedom they really need to grow?
We'd have to change the way the public thinks about charity. Because individuals give 75% of the $300 billion donated to nonprofit organizations each year. The public influences public policy. The media gives the public what they think the public wants. So changing the way the public thinks about these things is key.

What's wrong with the way the public thinks about charity and giving?
Pretty much everything. The public wants charities to spend as little as possible on overhead. The public doesn't like to see high executive salaries. The public wants every gala dinners and walk-a-thon to send 100% of the money back to the cause. What the public doesn't realize is that low overhead is not a path to the end of world hunger or a cure for cancer. It's the opposite. Only allowing charities access to the lowest-cost talent is not a strategic plan for the alleviation of human suffering. Demanding home runs on every charitable fundraising endeavor discourages innovation and keeps charities in fear and keeps them small. So, the very things the public has been taught are good and ethical are the practices that are killing us.

Why does the public think these things?
Because the nonprofit sector and government regulators and the media keep telling them these things. The public doesn't know this is wrong. Why? Because our sector has never tried to explain it. We are trapped with the public in a vicious feedback loop that keeps us telling people what they want to hear. The more we keep saying it, the more society believes it to be true. It is wishful thinking to believe this will change if we don't change.

So what's your answer?
To transform the way the public thinks about charity and giving and how change actually gets made.

That's a tall order. How on earth do you change the way the public thinks about these things?
How do you change the way anyone thinks about anything? You start talking to them. Methodically, often, and consistently. You help the public understand that what they really want is not low overhead. What they really want is to solve social problems. And my experience has been that the public has tremendous common sense, and that once you start telling them that low overhead is not how you solve social problems, they want to know how you do solve social problems, and they want you to start doing the things that will do that. It's just that no one has ever told them otherwise.

How do you have a conversation like that on a national level?
You create a national leadership organization for precisely that purpose. The nonprofit sector lacks such an organization right now. Several of us have created such an organization. It's called the Charity Defense Council.

What exactly will this Charity Defense Council do?
It will focus on five strategies to fundamentally change the way the public thinks about charity. First, it will serve as an anti-defamation league to correct inaccurate and sensational stories in the media that continue to contaminate public thinking with the wrong ideas. Second, it will conduct major advertising campaigns to begin a conversation with the public about these issues. So, in the same way, for example, that the pork industry changed the image of pork from a fatty heart-attack-waiting-to-happen meat into a healthy alternative to chicken by calling it "the other white meat" we can change the way people think about charity with that kind of strong and consistent advertising campaign. Third, it will serve as a legal defense fund to protect the sector's first amendment rights. Because charities are forced to speak in the language of overhead percentages instead of in plain English and consequently the general public thinks that overhead is the most important question they can ask. Government regulations reinforce this hallucinogenic instruction. Fourth, we will organize the sector and the individuals in it to begin to act and speak on their own behalf. In the way the gay lesbian civil rights movement advance so quickly by individuals coming out we need individuals in the nonprofit sector to begin to come out and tell people that "I kept the overhead low" is not what they want engraved on their tombstones. And all of this Will culminate in a National Civil Rights Act for Charity and Social Enterprise which will not only serve to improve the statutory environment in which the sector works, but by its very enactment will serve to change the way the public thinks about these things.

What is your goal?
To fundamentally transform the way the public thinks about charity. And to do it within ten years. How will we know if we have achieved this? Well, a study at NYU reveals that 79% of the general public believes that charities waste either "a great deal" or "a fair amount of money." We will know we have succeeded when 79% of the public thinks the opposite.