22 December 2020

In this episode, at the end of a tumultuous and unpredictable year, we attempt (wisely or not!) to give some predictions for what 2021 might bring.

  1. Economic downturn
    • Impact of Pandemic & Brexit: more demand, charity finances hit, less giving?
    • Charity closures/mergers?
    • Reimagining resilience?
  2. Political division
    • Ongoing division
    • Ongoing politicisation of charity/culture wars
    • Closing space for civil society
    • Foreign funding restrictions
  3. Nationalism/Globalism/Localism
    • Will the pandemic make us think for locally, nationally or globally?
    • Will we see more moves towards devolution?
    • Philanthrolocalism
  4. The post-pandemic workplace
    • How will changes made through necessity during the pandemic affecting the charity workplace longer term?
    • Will we see more orgs thinking through the optimum balance offline and online for their work as we become more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both (e.g. efficiency and ability to reach wider geographic area vs value of offline serendipity, human connection)
    • Will there continue to be more adoption of remote/mixed working? Will we see orgs change how they think about the purpose of the office? Will this begin a geographic rebalancing of the charity sector workforce?
  5. The expanding landscape for doing good
    • Further expansion of space for “doing good” as we see more networked movements, informal P2P giving, mutual aid groups, corporates with purpose etc.
    • What is the USP of charities in this context?
    • Rebalancing of corporate/charity relationships as companies lay claim to purpose?
    • Continuing rise of networked movements
    • Continuing interest in Mutual Aid?
    • The participation premium- what can charities learn?
  6. Cross cutting issues
    • Will the focus on racial justice/equality decline across wider society as we move further away from this year’s momentum around BLM?
    • Can civil society take a lead in maintaining that momentum?
    • Will we see the focus on climate renewed?
    • Will these issues increasingly be seen not as “cause areas”, but as cross-cutting concerns that all CSOs need to take into account?
    • What does this mean in practice- e.g. re investment approaches, leadership in civil society, composition of the non-profit workforce etc?
  7. Post-pandemic philanthropic funding trends
    • Unrestricted/core cost/trust based grantmaking. Will the trend continue?
    • More collaboration
    • Push for centralisation
    • Continuing pushback on impact measurement
    • More participatory approaches
    • New areas of funding focus:
        • social movements
        • infrastructure
        • digital
        • foresight
        • Journalism 
  8. Philanthropy under fire
    • Ongoing critiques:
      • Tainted donations (expect more examples)
      • Anti-democratic nature of big philanthropy
    • Philanthropy part of the problem re inequality
    • Philanthropy & conspiracy theories
  9. Mass giving
    • What is happening to giving? Long term decline or not? Giving pulled forward in response to the pandemic, or increased overall?
    • Will we see more big philanthropy focussed on encouraging mass giving?
  10. Disintermediation and platform philanthropy
    • Acceleration of existing growth of online giving due to pandemic will put more emphasis on platforms, leading to:
      • more focus on responsibilities of those platforms (Neutrality of platforms/advisers under greater scrutiny
      • Further moving away from donors giving to orgs towards P2P giving/crowdfunding
      • Use of payment apps (Venmo/CashApp) to give direct to individuals
      • More commercial platforms offering giving functionality
  11. Awareness of platform dependency risks
    • CSOs will become more aware that platforms are not digital public space
    • Examples of platform dependency risks:
      • Terms of Service changes
      • Censorship
  12. Engagement of civil society in tech issues
    • Will the enforced pivot to digital during the pandemic lead to wider awareness of, and engagement in, technology issues?
    • Growing interest in civil society alternatives to commercial digital infrastructure?
    • Continuing pushback on tech ethics framing?
  13. AI trends
    • Further development of giving via conversational AI interfaces (and growing awareness of opportunities & challenges)?
    • More examples of use of AI for process automation, e.g. in grantmaking?
  14. Immersive tech
    • More supporter led fundraising using short-form video content (TikTok-style)?
    • VAR becomes more popular; more examples of it being used for fundraising?
    • Further forays into gaming and E-sports for fundraising?
  15. Cryptocurrency and blockchain
    • Renewal of interest in crypto-philanthropy?
    • More examples of practical/ ethical challenges (e.g. anonymous donations from problematic sources, volatility of crypto-assets).
  16. Cybersecurity and RegTech challenges
    • Ransomware/cyber attacks on charities increase (linked to increase in remote working?)

About the Giving Thought podcast

The Giving Thought podcast is an exploration of trends in global philanthropy and civil society. Launched in 2017 it is recognised as an insightful and influential source of philanthropic debate.  Rhodri Davies director of our Giving Thought Think Tank hosts the podcast, discussing contemporary issues and interviewing sector experts. Episodes are also available free on iTunes and Libsyn.

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