Pinch Me I Must Be Dreaming: Is This the Future of Philanthropy?

October 24, 2010; Source: National Center for Responsive Philanthropy  |  In a guest post on the National Center for Responsive Philanthropy’s blog, Bill Somerville of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation predicts six trends for philanthropy that will be noticeable by 2014. He makes these predictions based on pressures that are building in the current system of philanthropy, including; increasingly burdensome paperwork and slow decision-making in the face of urgent need, a shift of generational power, a resurgence of interest in grassroots initiatives, and a need for more entrepreneurial grant-making to tackle complex issues.

It’s our bet that, appreciative as they are of existing philanthropic largesse, many non-profits will be thrilled to hear the predicted changes for the sector. These changes include:

  • More entrepreneurial mindset within foundations: “Philanthropy will involve more risk taking” and “more tolerance for an occasional failure”
  • More focus on seeking out and funding “outstanding people and organizations,” versus long drawn-out application processes, as the means to undertake due diligence
  • More true partnering between grantors and grantees: “More collegial relationships” between applicants and foundation staff
  • More trust-based relationships within foundations, resulting in more discretionary grant-making and faster grant-making processes
  • More discretionary and flexible funding for grassroots programs in particular
  • A critical mass of young people engaged in philanthropic work, bringing new experiences, perspectives, and practices to shape the field

Are any of these changes already well on their way to being the norm in your experience? Are these the most important changes we need in philanthropy? And, do you think the predictions will come to pass?—Kathi Jaworski