None of these philanthropy trends will catch any of my philanthropy colleagues by surprise, but it is very striking to see them writ large, and often.

  1. Is philanthropy synonymous with charity? While charity is a form of philanthropy, they are not synonyms. Too many think they are, that working in the nonprofit world is a kind of vow of poverty, and it leads to real dilemmas.
  2. How can we improve, enhance, and dignify the funder-grantee balance? For a long time, funders have referred to grantees as “partners”; let’s face it, only a few behaved that way.
  3. What is the proper role of philanthropy? As the safe space for philanthropy closes or is under attack elsewhere in the world, funders are asking if our proper role is to restrict ourselves to safe spaces or align with the change agents.
  4. Must philanthropy be non-profit? The “doing well by doing good mantra” has infused business school students for the last 2 decades.
  5. Is “intersectionality” the solution? As I have written in more depth elsewhere, there are two meanings to “intersectionality.” One is a political imperative: if one doesn’t honor the full range of issues, one is in effect denying them all. This approach is filled with red-lines.
  6. Can systemic solutions solve what compassion hasn’t?  In the end, we need interventions everywhere along the spectrum, regardless of where one starts, or why one starts there.
  7. Whatever happened to social impact bonds/pay for success? The idealization of the model quickly confronted the reality of trying to coordinate sectors with competing bottom-lines, decision making, stakeholders and time lines.
  8. What are the words of the year? There are 2 – one is a repeat performer, the other newly on the list: Impact and Equity.

Read the full article about philanthropy trends by Richard Marker at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.