One of the most gratifying aspects of the work we do at ONE HUNDRED is meeting leaders and influencers who are working to make a genuine difference in the world. At ONE HUNDRED, we have the great fortune of encountering their stories at scale every day, working with an extraordinary variety of organizations that are led by people who inspire and awe.
As a thought leader in the philanthropic arena, ONE HUNDRED is constantly keeping an eye toward the new dynamics, trends, challenges and solutions in our sector. One of the responsibilities we feel strongly about is to share the lessons we encounter daily with the hopes that greater knowledge and collaboration increases effectiveness and impact. That is why we are releasing the second edition of the Influencers in Philanthropy Report that uncovers the insight and unique perspectives from some of the leading figures in philanthropy today.
In the Influencers in Philanthropy 2019 report we spoke to and researched 100 leaders across the philanthropic landscape and examined the key trends, disruptions, challenges, and opportunities in the sector. In our first report, released in 2017, ONE HUNDRED identified key themes in the philanthropic field and how they generate results for innovation, impact and resource generation. In the second report, we spoke to some of the same leaders you heard from in the first report but also checked-in with new names. These leaders are the heads of the largest nonprofits, leaders among the top private foundations, mega philanthropists, and corporate executives with exceptional CSR initiatives.
For the past three years we at ONE HUNDRED have witnessed the transformative impact that strong leadership can have on an organization and its impact. We know that to drive real change and progress leaders must be visionary, embrace change, question the status quo and be deeply engaged in learning from and shaping the social and philanthropic landscape around us. Most of all, the leaders and influencers we spoke with in this report truly inspire us and others to take action in big and small ways.
I left the interviews I conducted completely in awe of the diverse range of skills, insights and capabilities driving today’s philanthropic sector. It has been fascinating to touch base with Influencers who participated in the first report and hear how their perspectives have evolved in the context of current events and fundraising challenges. It has also been extremely refreshing and moving to check in with new viewpoints and learn about the trends, disruptions, challenges and opportunities that this new cohort faces. These leaders tell us, in their own words, what concerns them, who and what organizations they admire, and how they see the future of philanthropy moving in a rapidly changing world. The end result provides extraordinary insight into the philanthropic landscape we face currently and a window into what leaders see ahead in the near and distant future.
Current challenges and future trends in philanthropy.
Our work with some of the largest, most complex nonprofits, Fortune 500 corporations with exceptional CSR initiatives and foundations has provided us with a unique vantage point. It has provided a front row seat with leading philanthropic organizations, working with them to make important decisions in an ever-changing environment.
This rapidly changing landscape has meant that for some, they have progressed technologically at a rapid pace, for some it has meant that their focus has been on sticking with what has worked historically. Many leaders we spoke with lamented the value of “sticking to the basics” amidst the extremely high pressure to be high-tech in today’s digital world.
Many of our Influencers looked ahead to the needs and demands of next generation donors noting what has already been well documented: that many next gen donors have a hunger for impact data and real insight into the stories and changemakers behind the numbers. Many organizations focused on the continued need for collaboration on all levels, by bringing together development, program and marketing teams under a unified resource mobilization strategy.
Although we asked our new set of Influencers a similar set of questions that we asked them in 2017, new trends, challenges and lessons learned emerged. Here’s some of what we’ve found in this year’s report:
● Collaboration: Collaboration is necessary for greater impact. Engaging in large and small-scale partnerships and fostering a spirit of collaboration internally was cited as largely a no-brainer for the Influencers we spoke with, both in terms of collaborative funding models and sharing best practices. Given the diversity of actors working to tackle social problems and the resulting fragmentation of resources and effort that can occur by going at it alone, finding common ground and developing principles of collaboration is crucial to increase impact and avoid the dilution of mission.
● Technology: Technology has fueled a highly informed audience of donors and potential givers. There was a widespread sense that advanced technology is vastly underutilized in many philanthropic organizations. Several respondents spoke of the relentless need to keep up, or ideally stay ahead, of evolving trends, especially on the technology front. Some noted the lingering challenge of nonprofits remaining behind the private sector in leveraging the latest technology wisely due to limited resources and competing demands.
● Next Generation Donors: With a lot of focus on next generation donors, many Influencers shared that millennials and Gen Zers surprisingly share many of the typical donor hallmarks of other generations from the recent past such as demanding greater transparency but with one important distinction: the shrinking of the middle-class donor base. This distinction means that an organization’s successful engagement with the next generation is more important than ever.
● The effectiveness of philanthropy in an ever-changing world: The leaders we spoke with were clear that philanthropy cannot address the world’s needs on its own and that the yardstick by which we measure philanthropy’s effectiveness should not solely be the absence of social problems. Governments should take a lead role in the work and responsibility of social improvement by providing partnership opportunities to the private and non-profit sectors. There is growing concern regarding reduced government programs and a philosophical shift in some of the long-held assumptions regarding the role of government and social programs. However, Influencers noted the unique role of nonprofits and the enormous gaps they fill beyond what governments are able or willing to accomplish.
As we launch our second Influencers report, I would like to thank my ONE HUNDRED colleagues. After three years of exceptional work, I continue to be encouraged by the quality of ideas, insights and the caliber of talent that exists on our team. We understand that at their core, purpose driven organizations drive global progress and act as beacons of hope for both the public and private sectors. They are a much-needed north star for the rest of the world fueled by the passions, efforts and talents of real people aligning to make our world a better place. It is this passion that drives our work daily.
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