As a futurist for the social sector, I am often asked about what to expect in the future. While there are many things I don’t know, there are some that I do. For example, I know the social sector has risen to the challenge and opportunity of the post-COVID world and will continue to do so as we ride a wave of new public health challenges, navigate an economic downturn and tackle equity issues. We can continue to rise to the occasion if we set ambitious, but attainable goals.

More than 60 years ago, President John F. Kennedy captured our imagination when he said, “This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” And, with that moment, the term “moonshot” entered our vocabulary as “a difficult or expensive task, the outcome of which is expected to have great significance.” Recently, this word has returned and is being used to describe all sorts of ambitious goals, from curing cancer to exploring space. We believe the social sector is ready for moonshot goals – here are our top 10 for 2023:

1. We will not chase money, but rather chase our vision and mission.

We will be the best at what we do and know our unique value proposition. We will strive to be the community expert by staying up-to-speed on best practices and sharing what we’ve learned. Instead of chasing money outside of what we do best, we will chase partners who can help us do more.

2. We will be a data-driven culture focused on not reinventing the wheel.

We will use lean startup principles to build the best program possible from the start and resist the temptation to reinvent the wheel. We will not only collect data, but we will also use it to drive continuous improvement. We will inspire a culture that uses data as place to start and weighs it before making decisions.

3. We will co-design with the community and those we serve.

We must constantly seek feedback on the challenges facing those we serve and work together to overcome them. Asking for input on our design is not enough; we must co-design solutions that are strengths-based and community-driven.

4. We will stop being nice and start being real.

We must realize when our propensity to be nice is getting in the way of driving real, community change. We need to have honest conversations about what is needed to drive results – even with those funding the work.

5. We will be advocates.

Many of our clients do not have a voice, so we need to engage in advocacy and lobbying to ensure that their voice is heard. If we want government to listen, we must speak loudly and consistently as a sector and have well-formulated solutions ready.

6. We will endeavor to create anti-racist organizations.

Racism is an undercurrent that devalues our work in the social sector every day, and it should be everyone’s mission to name it, claim it and resolve it. We will take deliberate actions within our organizations to be accountable to racial equity and social justice goals.

7. We will grow the pie.

We compete for money, resources, media attention and volunteers. Yet, we all share a vision for a better community. We need to focus more on growing the pie rather than competing for the same piece of the pie. We need to have honest conversations about overlaps, gaps and areas of opportunity where we can all be successful.

8. We will judge our meetings by their results.

We do not have infinite capacity, and meetings take time and energy. We need to ask whether the reason for meeting is still relevant or important enough to continue. In those meetings that are important, we must follow best practices, whether in-person or online.

9. We will focus our fundraising efforts on long-term growth.

We will stop short-term fundraising efforts focused on chasing the dollar and start building long-term relationships based on our direct impact in the community. We will build support for our cause through storytelling, data and testimonials, and, through stewardship, cultivate long-term relationships that will benefit our organization for a lifetime.

10. We will get comfortable with failure.

We need to fail early and often to find the best solutions. We will be honest with our failures and create a culture that values success as well as failure. By evaluating all we do through the lens of our collective experience, we can simplify and streamline our processes while making a greater impact on our communities. 

If you wholeheartedly agree with any of the above, we hope you will take a minute and share this missive online. And if we missed any moonshot goals you’d like to add to this list, please share them with us.


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