Future of Philanthropy

These Key Trends Will Shape Philanthropy in 2020


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2020 Philanthropy Trends

And just like that, 2020 is here and so is a brand-new decade. We’ve spent time examining the major philanthropy trends and shifts that we witnessed in the last decade, and now, it’s time to look forward. Our CEO, Madeline Duva, recently shared with Forbes the key trends that will shape philanthropy in 2020 and on. We want to share these same insights directly with our Fluxx readers. See below for the top trends that will shape philanthropy in the coming years and help foundations and nonprofits alike as they work to plan for the future of their organizations.

#1: More Organizations Will Converge as One to Tackle Big Problems

In the past decade, foundations began to analyze themselves closely and ask difficult questions about what kind of tangible change was being brought forth per grant, and whether or not funders were doing enough to support the nonprofits who enacted change each day. The answer was both simple in theory and complex in execution: philanthropy would need to prioritize deeper collaboration to produce lasting change.

For funders and impact investors to deliver the lasting change they stated in their missions, they were going to need to do more of three things: combine funds and forces, provide nonprofits with the tools needed to work better, collaborate with government and corporate giving programs. 

Organizations like the JPB Foundation in New York City are leading by example. The foundation recognized that complex social issues could not be solved by single players alone, but rather by a host of like-minded organizations working in concert towards a single goal. To achieve this, the JPB Foundation employs a collaborative model, in which they fund a “hub organization” or “anchor,” and then fund a network of surrounding organizations that work together to pool resources, deploy knowledge, and collectively create a more effective and supportive ecosystem. This inclusive model has proven to be far more effective than the silos we all used to operate in not that long ago.

This interconnectivity – as well as the associated software facilitating it (such as the way Fluxx Grantmaker and Grantseeker connect to facilitate impact on both sides of the philanthropic isle) – will become industry-standard in a few short years.

#2: We Will See a Greater Adoption of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

In the next few years, we will see additional use cases for and increased adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Philanthropic organizations are slowly starting to integrate AI-based and machine learning tools to not only speed up grants management but more efficiently infer data-based insights and apply them to their missions.

The applications of AI in philanthropy are wide-ranging, but perhaps one of the most promising examples can be found in the work accomplished by journalistic nonprofits, who are adopting innovative AI-based technologies to discover insights into social media and the way we consume information. Notably, nonprofit news organization ProPublica is using grants to adopt artificial intelligence technologies (like machine learning and chatbots) to better monitor and report on the algorithms impacting our everyday lives. That’s right, the tables have turned and profit-obsessed giants like Facebook and Amazon that monitor their users are being watched by nonprofits.

But AI is not without its pitfalls. Bias must be factored into any examination of artificial intelligence. After all, an intelligent system is only as good as the data it learns from and we have seen many examples of AI gone awry. So, the challenge isn’t just to adopt AI and machine learning, but to do so in a conscientious, responsible and judicious manner without bias – and this is the lens through which philanthropy must view AI.

#3: Blockchain will become the “Connective Tissue” for Philanthropy

Blockchain is most often associated with cryptocurrency, but it promises boundless potential for safe banking (and therefore safe giving) worldwide. In philanthropy, blockchain has quickly grown a reputation for its utility, flexibility and above all else, effectiveness at delivering funds, internationally, into the hands of change-makers.

Blockchain stands to drastically improve giving in developing countries where trusted banking is scarce, or the national currency is subject to unpredictable levels of inflation. The technology has the potential to create a more transparent giving process without the hefty transaction fees you would see with a credit card. In many countries with turbulent economies and technological infrastructures, blockchain has proved to be a boon not just as a dependable form of currency, but as a way to ensure an immutable record to track and distribute key resources, such as medical supplies and other forms of aid. 

We expect to see more philanthropic organizations integrate this technology into their global and national missions in the coming years. 

To learn more about the evolution of philanthropy and technology in the coming years, read Madeline’s article in Forbes.

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