Re-Imagining the Future of Philanthropy

In late April, a dozen social sector and philanthropy leaders from North America joined me for Conversation 2009. Prior to convening this think tank format, each of us wrote an essay on one of the four topics we co-developed. Those essays and a synthesis of our conversation will be published this fall by On The Cusp Publishing. Until then, I’ll post a snippet from each of the four topics over the next few weeks. Today’s post reflects our discussion on re-imagining the future of philanthropy. My thanks to these gifted colleagues for sharing the best of their experience and wisdom.

By whatever name, we’re in a crisis that demands individual behavioral change.

Illustration by Ken Hubbell
Illustration by Ken Hubbell

A societal shift is taking place (transformation/sea change/evolution…) that is both influencing and influenced by generational personalities, fostering a shift in what people value, and pulling us to reframe our approaches.

Development officers and philanthropists are being drawn to more “whole” thinking rather than through the silos of a single organization or through the lens of immediacy. Philanthropy professionals and philanthropists (volunteers and donors) will be more focused on what is relevant and right and what is good for the community (the system). They will increasingly bring together allied professionals to ask questions about whole change. Organizations with the courage to have both, integrated, and shared visions will lead. Philanthropy professionals and philanthropists will ask less often “how should we” and more often “should we”, which will subtlely change the look, feel, practice and language of philanthropy (influenced by the Millennials).

Senior professionals are being called upon to provide leadership to the longer view and asking the “right” questions…..called upon to help lead organizational leaders to new ways of thinking…..called upon to engage philanthropists (people with a giving heart) to partner with them for positive change.


Full disclosure: On The Cusp Publishing is owned and operated by Gary J. Hubbell

Illustration by Ken Hubbell

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