Blueprint 2017: Anticipated Trends for Philanthropy in the Upcoming Year

Last week Grantcraft published Lucy Bernholz’ Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017, an annual forecast of shifting trends and expected changes in the upcoming year. In the report, Bernholz identified three overarching issues for the field of philanthropy moving forward.

  • Tension Between Philanthropy and Politics

The 2016 election highlighted the growing tension between philanthropy and politics as both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump faced persistent scrutiny over their foundation operations. This tension exists, Bernholz argues, because philanthropy stands at an intersection between the private and public sector; philanthropy is a practice that utilizes private resources to benefit the public good. Consequently, there has been much debate this past year regarding appropriate incentives, regulations, and transparency requirements for the nonprofit industry.

  • Digital Infrastructure

Bernholz also notes the movement towards understanding and protecting rights in digital spaces. As the world enters a digital age, it is becoming increasingly important for the nonprofit sector to recognize emerging issues of net neutrality, intellectual property, and data collection, among others. While several organizations (such as Creative Commons, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation) have formed to address these topics, Bernholz anticipates that digital governance will soon be added to many donors’ priorities.

  • Approaching Systems as a Whole

Lastly, Bernholz recognizes that nonprofits are expanding their frame of reference to approach systems as a whole. In part due to the spreading use of data and analysis, nonprofits are becoming better at identifying how their organization’s work fits into a broader picture. Rather than taking an isolated approach to addressing social issues, nonprofits are increasingly likely to collaborate by aligning values, organizational structure, financing options, and technology.

Bernholz concludes these three trends with predictions for the year ahead. On the global level, Bernholz expects:

  • Societies will increasingly recognize the importance of open source software
  • Nonprofits will increasingly consider approaches to artificial intelligence
  • Governments will increasingly experiment with policies pertaining to universal basic income
  • Sports teams will increasingly take stances on social issues
  • Increased citizen oversight of government agencies

Within the US in particular, Bernholz predicts:

  • Government action to limit assembly, a free press, and free expression
  • Rising costs of digital data storage and digital security for nonprofits
  • Increased focus on disability rights
  • Increased scrutiny into crowdfunding platforms
  • Increased use of data for evaluating social programs
  • Limited corporate regulations and weakened labor protections

The full Blueprint 2017 report can be found at Grantcraft.