As the holiday season comes to an end, so too comes the end of the season of giving (though this may have more to do with tax deadlines). As people finalize their charitable contributions for the year, it’s time to look forward to how the world of philanthropy may reshape itself in the coming years.
When it comes to the role that giving plays in our society and how that will change the institutions of the philanthropy world, there’s a lot to look out for in the coming decade, says Sampriti Ganguli, CEO of Arabella Advisors, a consulting company that advises individuals, corporations, and foundations on impact investing, advocacy, and other philanthropic ventures. Ganguli highlighted a few ways we’ll see the world of giving change.
Technology may help target giving
As the world becomes more technology-enabled, so will philanthropy, and that could have some big benefits. “You can use artificial intelligence and predictive analysis . . . to identify the three interventions that can help accelerate the reading gap for third graders, or how to use geospatial analysis to identify where forest fires could occur next year, and how do we get those resources there?” Ganguli says. “There’s a lot of promise and potential in technology, and in the next decade we’ll see the promise of a lot of that come into the social sector in a more meaningful way.”
There may be one downside to this, which is that philanthropy at its core is “about the heart,” Ganguli notes—people being moved emotionally to help solve an issue. Let’s be honest—an algorithm seems like a dehumanizing way to donate. But technology is big business, and that means a lot of interest and money will be coming out of—and going into—that world. If those in the tech sector want to use their powers for good, there’s room for that.
Philanthropy will bolster capital for women and people of color
There’s a lot of capital out there for entrepreneurs, and yet minorities are still often left out of that opportunity (and also the philanthropic world). By blending philanthropic capital and investment capital, Ganguli sees a way to help those who have been left behind. Funding often starts with friends and family, but if someone’s friends and family don’t have the wealth to invest, that puts the entrepreneur at a disadvantage. “We’re beginning to see philanthropists ask the question of ‘How can I support the ambition of women and minority entrepreneurs not getting traditional funding?'” Ganguli says.
This effort is part of what’s been dubbed “an economy for all.” And not only will this kind of focused investing help those often ignored by venture firms; in turn, it’ll help their communities. Women and people of color often start businesses that benefit their peers or just have a positive impact on society. From 2007 to 2015, women-owned businesses created 1.24 million more jobs than male-owned firms, “despite the fact that there were significantly more of the latter,” notes an Arabella report.
Philanthropy will help prison reform efforts
In the next decade, says Ganguli, an area in the crosshairs of philanthropy will be prison reform, partly because it’s an issue that the left and the right are finding common ground in fixing. “Funders come to criminal justice reform from two very different angles: One is ‘This is a very expensive system,’ and two, ‘It’s a very inequitable system,'” she says.
Whether using grant funding to research the companies involved in the prison-industrial complex, using endowment capital to engage in investor activism, or supporting organizations working on policy changes, Arabella sees concerned philanthropists playing a big role in this field. And increased attention on prison reform may also pressure companies to cut their prison-industry ties, just like the push for companies to divest from fossil fuels is gaining traction. “We can tell wealth advisers they can’t be working on criminal justice reform and have an investment portfolio that includes private prisons,” Ganguli says. It’s both about raising awareness and helping these companies—who want to show that they’re making an effort to do good in the world—to be consistent across all their actions.