The turn of the calendar to a new year inevitably brings a slew of predictions for what the new year will hold. The philanthropy and nonprofit sectors aren’t immune to the pull of the prognosticating pundit. In the past 30 days, I’ve read these pieces (in approximate chronological order):
- Blueprint 2016 – Lucy Bernholz’s annual industry forecast for the social economy contains predictions and buzzwords for the year and some wildcard ideas
- 4 Predictions for the Future of the Nonprofit Sector – a longer-term look by Richard Mittenthal, President and CEO of the TCC Group
- Twelve Predictions for Social Good in 2016 – a global view by Matthew Bishop of The Economist
- 10 Predictions for the Nonprofit Sector in 2016 and Beyond – by Gene Takagi, managing attorney of the NEO Law Group
- Philanthropy Forecast, 2016 – by Inside Philanthropy’s David Callahan also names a number of foundations and philanthropists to watch
- Six Family Philanthropy Trends to Watch in 2016 – the National Center for Family Philanthropy’s predictions based partly on its new Trends in Family Philanthropy study
- 8 Philanthropy Trends to Watch in 2016 – by Angela White of Johnson Grossnickle Associates adds more of a fundraising focus
- Philanthropic futurist sees social media, race changing the scope of charitable giving – is a short interview with Trista Harris, president of the Minnesota Council of Foundations
- Six trends that will set the pace for philanthropy in 2016 – by attorney and philanthropic advisor Bruce DeBoskey
- Nine Predictions for Philanthropy in 2016 – by Jeff Clarke, CEO of Philanthropy Northwest and based on a survey of the organization’s network.
So, were there any trends to the trends? Yes, a few that weren’t surprising:
- The rise of alternate forms of doing social good – LLCs, B Corps, impact investments, and more
- The increasing impact of mega-wealthy philanthropists and their willingness to be activist givers in number of issues
- Opposite to mega-philanthropy, the broadened use of social media and online tools to engage large crowds of everyday people in giving and activism
- Increasing attention to “effective altruism” and other philanthropy driven by metrics and impact analyses
- The potential of increased scrutiny of the philanthropic and nonprofit sector, more likely by state regulators and the public than by the IRS and Congress
- Public and political debates about tough issues carrying over to the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, including about racial equity, inequality, gun control, climate change, and campaign finance and voting reforms.
Of course, you could choose to ignore the predictions. Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, tweeted
Predictions for the year generally are either 1) statements of what is already happening; or 2) wrong. I write this every year at this time.
— Phil Buchanan (@philCEP) January 11, 2016
Unfortunately, the sector lost one of most thoughtful (and occasionally aggravating) journalists and trend trackers, Rick Cohen. He was a long-time writer for Nonprofit Quarterly and former executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. His predictions for 2015 are still issues to watch in 2016.
Did I miss any predictions for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors?