Philanthropy Reconsidered: Future Trends


In my conclusion of a series of articles, which you can find here and here, this week I am looking at future trends in philanthropy based on the research of George McCully, President, Catalogue for Philanthropy in Massachusetts and author of Philanthropy Reconsidered: Private Initiatives – Public Good – Quality of Life.

  1. Philanthropy’s Influence – Before the widespread use of the internet, most charities did not have the ability to economically promote their organization. In today’s world, non-profits can present their mission and work to prospective donors and volunteers in a cost-effective manner. But with this sort of ability, comes more accountability and transparency with an increased need by the general public for more concrete information (besides just marketing) around organizational financials and outcomes, for example.
  1. Data and Knowledge Management – Since the advent of cloud computing, organizations are finding it easier to gather and maintain larger and increasing amounts of information that will provide charities that use it effectively with a competitive advantage. On the flip side of the same coin, institutional and individual donors are better able to evaluate non-profits beyond the limited IRS 990 filings.
  1. Systematic Philanthropy – Technology continues to provide knowledge management through the systemic accumulation of information. In today’s world, we have Guidestar, Charity Navigator, Network for Good and others that are collecting, aggregating and interpreting vast amounts of qualitative and quantitative information and providing it to the general public. Philanthropy is becoming more and more expert and strategic.
  1. Internet as “Participatory Media” – With the evolution of technology and the mainstream adaptation of tools beyond websites and email, such as IM, video-conferences, social networks, blogging, etc., donors and constituents to non-profits are able to not only gather information about charities, but they are able to engage with organizations (sometimes in a public space) in real or almost real time. This ability will continue to push charities toward increased transparency and accountability and it will also provide great opportunities for organizations to engage the public in innovative ways.
  1. Donor Organization – Donors and volunteers will continue to become empowered. In the old paradigm, donors were categorized into groups by organizations that had memberships (eg alumni groups), by federated giving programs (eg United Way) or community foundations that provided local donors with an organized way to support charities. Today, donors are organizing themselves in order to support philanthropy with vehicles such as Social Venture Partners, which are supplanting the old model.
  1. Philanthropy as a Popular Movement – Individuals are being empowered to take matters into their own hands. More and more people are assuming the public and private mantle of doing something for the greater good of society. As institutions have less influence with people and youth, individuals assume a greater role in the role for the “love of humanity” (philanthropy).
  1. Globalization of American Philanthropy – The United States has a culture of philanthropy as is demonstrated year after year by the enormous levels of giving and the current incentives that exist to promote philanthropy by Americans. Despite whatever governmental policies Americans may or may not find lacking, an opportunity exists – within the grasp of each and every individual – to help promote globally the genuine American legacy of philanthropy in a world where technology has broken down borders and barriers.

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Posted: July 14, 2014

© 2014 Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose” all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda N. Spencer and “Living For Purpose” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



3 thoughts on “Philanthropy Reconsidered: Future Trends

  1. Pingback: The Nonprofit Leader of Tomorrow | Living For Purpose™

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