Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What will the Nonprofit Sector look like in 20 years?

A few weeks ago I had an amazing conversation with Susan Raymond of Changing our World, a Philanthropic consulting firm. My initial interaction came from hearing her speak at the Los Angeles Summit onPhilanthropy where she reported on her research about public perception of the US nonprofit sector and international philanthropy.

In our phone conversation, Susan encouraged me and the rest of the nonprofit sector to think outside the box and stop measuring the walls within the box (the sector). She urged us to stop asking uninteresting questions, and really think about how new philanthropic and venture capital efforts are redefining the sector.

For example, she told me about how Goldman Sachs issued bonds for vaccines and AIG insured the weather in Ethopia so when there is a drought, the insurance company pays farmers and less people starve. Companies are finding ways to capitalize on these social issues and aren't doing it through traditional charitable and philanthropic methods.

Although I know the nonprofit and philanthropic sector is constantly changing, this conversation made me realize how much more I need to be aware of what is happening outside our sector because it has a huge impact on how the sector will evolve. So, lets talk about social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, and many non-traditional income models nonprofits are choosing to stay alive. If these new revenue models don't affect us now, they certainly will in 20 years.

Susan is author of "Mapping the New World of American Philanthropy: Causes and Consequences of the Transfer of Wealth," and,"The Future of Philanthropy: Economics, Ethics, and Management."

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