As we settle into the new normal of this unpredictable time, it’s an important opportunity to think about what’s happened in the past and how we’ll need to evolve in the future. As a company that’s focused on how and why people give, our team has been having conversations about what might be in store for us in the next year and beyond.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing some thoughts from our team. Follow along and be sure to share your reflections and predictions in the comments below.
First up, in this post get insights from Jessan Hutchison-Quillian Co-founder & CTO of Grapevine. Jessan combines engineering leadership with seven years experience in the nonprofit space, including chairing Social Justice Fund NW. After graduating Summa Cum Laude in Computer Science, he helped build Google’s video chat products. He went on to co-found Google’s Giving Week, lead their giving platform, and launch their Donate button.
Jessan’s Predictions & Outlook
COVID-19 is the key force shaping 2020. However, looking at the upcoming decade as a whole, I think there will be a continuation of major trends that have been shaping philanthropy.
I expect we’ll continue to see a focus on “impact per dollar.” The underlying intent of creating the most positive impact is wonderful. However, data can be difficult to provide in potentially extremely high impact areas like long-term social change. Lacking data can lead people to avoid funding them all-together. Fortunately, great examples like the Open Philanthropy Project and Movement Voter Project bring disciplined thinking to social change. I hope that results-focused donors expand their view enough to include these kinds of efforts.
With the increasing popularity of Donor Advised Fund accounts, I think it’s likely that we’ll start to see some changes from the IRS around these accounts. There’s been a lot of criticism around this money sitting in accounts waiting to be granted or being passed from account to account without making its way to a nonprofit. My hope is that changes will be made to help get these dollars into the hands of nonprofits more quickly.
While we’ll likely see a drop in 501c3 giving this year due to the election and due to the likely recession, I don’t think this will be a permanent shift. Although wealth tends to reduce compassion, I think that my generation will continue to donate more on average than those before us even as wealth transfers to us. This is partly due to the great work of organizations like Resource Generation.
Generosity is not a US-dominated trait, but we’ve created a nonprofit sector at an unparalleled scale. I think this specific kind of philanthropy has been growing and will continue to grow internationally.
Shifting from predictions to hopes: I’d love to see strategic investments in mental health and happiness in the upcoming decade. Meeting basic needs is essential, but I also want to see a world where everyone has the habits, skills, and culture to thrive mentally when those needs are met.
It may be challenging, but with the racial wealth divide expected to grow, some significant investment in reparations is increasingly important.
Finally, U.S. voter turnout significantly trails most major countries. I hope we finally make dramatic increases on voter participation as soon as possible.