Trista’s 2024 Philanthropy PredictionsDec 08, 2023
Every year, the FutureGood team and I curate a list of trends that we believe will impact foundations and nonprofits in the coming year. Here are our 2024 predictions.
No more sitting on the policy sidelines
Nonprofits will increasingly engage in advocacy and policy work to address the root causes of social issues, advocating for systemic change. It is no longer enough to try to address the results of terrible public policy, we need to be critical partners that propose new policy solutions and help educate our elected officials on how public policy impacts our communities. If we don’t address root policy causes, we are just sticking our collective finger in the hole in the dam.
Where is the next big crisis? Assume it will be in your backyard
The world is becoming more unpredictable, with natural disasters, public health crises, civic disasters, and other emergencies becoming the norm. Nonprofits and foundations will enhance their crisis preparedness and response capabilities for themselves and the communities they work in. They will also shift to building long-term resilience and preparedness, especially in marginalized communities.
The rise of the machines - AI changes everything
Technology is advancing rapidly, and nonprofits will embrace this more than ever. Artificial Intelligence (AI), once considered a sci-fi storyline, is now an essential tool for nonprofits. It's making their operations more efficient, allowing for personalized donor interactions, and aiding in data analysis for better decision-making. Nonprofits and foundations will quickly learn how to utilize AI for most aspects of their operations, freeing up staff time for relationship building and innovation.
Traditional strategic planning is a thing of the past
Traditional strategic planning is based on a predictable future that looks a lot like the past. The events of 2020 taught us that just isn’t true anymore. Nonprofits and foundations will leave behind traditional, inflexible strategic planning in favor of forward-looking, adaptable ones.
The new strategic planning model will include setting ambitious 20 to 30-year goals to meet your mission. Additionally, these models will adapt to involve the implementation of monthly and quarterly accountability measures, which will help your organization stay nimble in the face of uncertainty and maintain alignment with your long-term transformative goals.
Taking the well-being of your team seriously
Nonprofits will increasingly recognize that their most valuable assets are the dedicated people on their teams. In an era of increasing demands and pressures, organizations are not only prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their staff but also viewing it as a strategic imperative to ensure staff members remain effective and committed to their missions. We will see an explosion of investments in employee wellness programs, sabbaticals and retreats. These are critical for staff to be effective in their roles and to stay with your organization.
Climate Change has arrived
Climate change is not some far-off boogeyman; it is affecting your community today. Nonprofits and foundations will intensify their efforts to address this as a central organizational issue, both in their operations and through advocacy for climate-conscious policies. Look for more organizations to recognize that climate change is within the parameters of their missions because the other issues they work on won’t matter if this one is not addressed now.
Future thinking skills are your biggest staff professional development need
Future thinking skills are critical in a world filled with uncertainty. These skills empower leaders to anticipate trends, adapt to changes, and develop strategies that lead to long-term success. They're not just about surviving; they're about thriving in uncertain times. (Shameless plug for FutureGood Studio where we train nonprofit and foundation leaders in three months to use futurism skills to supercharge their impact!)
I think there is another reason futurism and future thinking skills are critical in the social sector. Our field exists to change the trajectory of the future. Every time you launch a program or propose a piece of legislation you are working to change what the future looks like, especially for the most marginalized people in our communities.
You Get an Extra Day to Invest in the Future in 2024
This year is a Leap Year - Thursday, February 29, is a bonus day, and you should set it aside right now to focus on the future. The FutureGood team will share some amazing guidance on how to spend that time, but make sure you block off that time in your calendar RIGHT NOW.
About: Trista Harris is a philanthropic futurist and is nationally known as a passionate advocate for leaders in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. She is also the author of the books How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar and FutureGood: How to Use Futurism to Save the World. She is the President of FutureGood, a consultancy focused on helping visionary leaders build a better future.