Because most of us spend our time in the trenches researching, cultivating, asking, stewarding and reporting, it’s nice to spend an afternoon with someone who surveys the landscape from higher terrain and focuses in on objects and trends that we need to know about.
Last week Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, spoke at a Women in Development of Greater Boston (WID) event. Palmer gave her picks for the “Top Ten Trends in Philanthropy” and predicted what we’re going to see more of in the months ahead.
Some things that captured my attention and imagination were:
The changing relationship between government and nonprofits regarding taxation…
With the recent strain on the economy coupled with consumers’ growing concern over the efficacy of nonprofit organizations, it was just a matter of time before government officials started debating a larger fee structure for PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) programs (or changing tax codes to include nonprofits). In Boston, where over half of the land is owned either by nonprofits or the government, PILOT payments are an important source of a struggling city’s tax revenue. There’s a good overview of the discussion here at the Inside Higher Ed site, and Palmer predicted more developments to come on this issue in the months ahead.
… and government investment in programs via social impact bonds.
A recent import from the UK is the creation of social impact bonds (brief article here from the NYT). Social impact bonds work like this: Private investors give the seed funding for a nonprofit organization/venture. If the nonprofit meets its stated goals, the investors get paid back with interest by the government at the end of a designated period. It’s venture funding with a social benefit twist, and it’ll be interesting to see if the program ideas being floated in New York City and Massachusetts get picked up. If you’re interested, there’s more information about social impact funds in a white paper written by Harvard economist Jeffrey Liebman.
The impact of technology in fundraising
From robot fundraisers on the streets like Don-8er and DONA to the use of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for interacting with our constituencies, there’s going to be a continuing explosion of new tools to engage and motivate donors, from small to large. Think that online giving isn’t going to work for large donors? Stacy Palmer told us that last year there were at least nine gifts of $100,000 made online, and that some high net worth donors she’s spoken with said that the only barrier they find to donating online like that is that most organizations’ websites aren’t equipped to accept large donations! Even if you don’t think it’ll ever happen, doesn’t it make sense to act like it could?
Some of Palmer’s other top trends included:
- the consolidation/merging together of nonprofits to avoid closure or to gain access to collaborative funding
- the rise of giving by women and how the change in demographics is transforming our society
- the importance of continuing education, staff retention and morale for nonprofit success.
What trends in philanthropy do you see? What do you think is in store for us?