Over the course of this series, we’ve heard from a range of different philanthropic leaders about where the field is today, and where it might be headed over the coming decade. The authors have highlighted the sense that many traditional systems—from national and global governance to our overarching economic paradigms—feel as if they are now being challenged. And while the status quo is in disequilibrium, there is an opportunity for philanthropy to be more than just another institution under threat; it can be a dynamic part of the solution.

After all, as the only truly flexible capital dedicated to social good, philanthropy is uniquely positioned to respond to these types of challenges. Businesses, governments, and nonprofits alike all have to respond urgently to shorter-term pressures. Funders don’t face these kinds of market, political, and fundraising pressures in the same way. Although this insulation can lead to a lack of accountability at times for philanthropy, it also means that funders are particularly well situated to be thoughtful about their financial and social capital, to take risks, to respond to urgent needs when needed, and at times, to take the long view on creating change.

Yet for any individual funder, the wide range of possibilities can feel both exciting and daunting, especially against a backdrop of turbulence, uncertainty, and dynamism in the world around them.

That’s because there’s no single, “right” answer that will work for every funder. Instead, what’s important is building a better understanding of how the world, and the places, people, and issues that they care about are changing; what’s possible (or newly possible) for their organizations as a result; and what capabilities are then needed to make sound choices and take meaningful action.

So rather than proposing one-size-fits-all solutions, here are a few parting thoughts on what some of those critical capabilities may look like in the coming years, tied to the four “edges” that our research suggests could play an outsized role in the future of philanthropy.

Most funders think about their strategies and roles from the inside-out. They start with what they can control—their mission, vision, and values—and then project that out onto the world and the changes they want to create. This can provide much needed ballast over the years ahead. But in a world buffeted by constant change, it will also be critical for funders to think about things from the outside-in—to understand how the world is shifting and what that means for both what they do and how they do it.

Read the full article about role of philanthropy by Gabriel Kasper, Justin Marcoux and Jennifer Holk at Stanford Social Innovation Review.