Back to the Future Day gave us a chance to reflect on the past 30 years, but also a chance to prognosticate about the next 30 years. We asked our TrendSpotters via email and social media what the future will look like in the social sector, and dozens replied. Special thanks to Alyson Bleistine, Jerr Boschee, Jay Cole, Kyle Gardner, Jean Lee, Margery Miller, Julie Morris, Richard Perez and Rebecca Walls for their fantastic analysis. Many more followers said they couldn’t wait to hear the gigawatt ideas generated by fellow TrendSpotters. So, hop on your hover boards (or at least your Swagways), and check out the most mentioned ideas, predictions and aspirations for the future of the social sector:
Blended value – In the future, the nonprofit and for-profit sector will converge to allow for heightened creativity, investment and spending around important social issues. Society will have greater acceptance for nonprofits that make money through great ideas and for-profits that fight social causes more intentionally.
Abundance mindset – In 2045, the social space will be defined by an abundance philosophy in which nonprofits see the connection between innovation and impact as well as risk and reward. Nonprofits will move from being service providers to being solution providers focused on impact and scale. And, nonprofits will be not judged by an arbitrary overhead rate, but rather by the impact created per dollar.
Cross-sector, holistic collaboration and unification – Thirty years from now, collaboration will be the norm, with increased engagement with government and business as more viable means to create solutions. The sector will be more comfortable with managing conflict and thinking “outside the silos” for better solutions. There will be less talk of mergers and more of shared services and network-building. Entrepreneurs will join existing nonprofits to work toward common solutions, rather than adding to the proliferation of nonprofits.
Clients at the center – Nonprofits will have the luxury of working on customized, integrated solutions for clients – making them a name versus just a number. The social sector will work alongside its clients to co-create a system of support based on their unique needs and preferences.
True diversity and equality – Gender, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and other differences that divide us will not be a factor anymore. Likewise, poverty, disability and illness will not carry the same social stigmas they do today.
Big insights – In the future, a common client database will connect all service providers. Through better connection of resources and data mining, the social sector will improve its ability to gain insights through data and research and increase its focus on continuous improvement.
Financing impact – Thirty years from now, impact investing will be the fulcrum of progress for the social sector. With better data mining and impact measurement, funders will better understand which interventions work and finance them for the long-term rather than funding them for the short-term.
Great Scott! We had so much fun receiving your predictions – we hope all of them and more are true in 2035. We welcome your feedback on these predictions and hope you will share them with your colleagues and friends. In our next post, we look forward to sharing our thoughts about the mega-hit book, The Innovators, and what lessons we can apply from it to the social sector.