Announcing 7 Trends in the Philanthropy Industry in 2017

Announcing 7 Trends in the Philanthropy Industry in 2017


In recent years, philanthropic giving has grown in impressive and promising ways. More young people who are becoming established in their careers are getting involved with philanthropy.

These individuals have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish. They are making collaborative efforts to effect more change than ever before.

As government curbs its spending, especially in social programming, gaps in services will need to be met by private donors. This means that the importance of philanthropy will likely only continue to grow for years to come.

That being said, the immediate road ahead may be a little unclear, and some bumps are to be expected. Below are some of the major predications that have been made about charity and philanthropy in 2017.

  1. Mobilization of new donors.

Image by Stars Foundation | Flickr

When presidents with strong agendas come to power, it is natural for donors of all political stripes to mobilize. Many progressive funders emerged during the Bush administration, creating groups like Democracy Alliance and contributing to organizations like the Center for American Progress.

Under Obama, conservative philanthropists began supporting think tanks such as AEI and the Heritage Foundation. The Trump administration is likely to inspire philanthropists who see social impact investing as a way to oppose – or support – new presidential policies.

  1. Growing distrust of philanthropy.

Recent events in the US have resulted in a great deal of distrust among some of the wealthiest people in the nation. This distrust may begin to infiltrate philanthropy, especially after substantial news coverage of scandals committed by both the Trump and Clinton foundations.

Additionally, because many people have always viewed foundations with suspicion, it would not be surprising if these institutions came under increased fire in 2017. Some of these reactions may be politically motivated, with Trump supporters targeting foundations that stand in opposition to the administration and vice versa.

Efforts to curb charitable tax deductions and control university endowments would only fuel these fires further.

  1. Charities will make a shift and become social enterprises.

Phoenix House charity
Image by Cliff | Flickr

Across the world, charities have been reimagining themselves as social enterprises. By doing so, these organizations give up the tax benefits they currently enjoy. However, they may improve their odds of attracting philanthropists who want to be socially involved.

Charities face a number of restrictions. Leaving that world often provides a newfound freedom that allows organizations to serve the people they benefit even more effectively.

The likelihood of a less-encouraging tax environment for charitable organizations is increasing. As a result, it might actually be wise for some charitable groups to take a more corporate approach to making a social impact.

  1. Increased interest in tech philanthropy.

In recent years, an increased interest in philanthropy has emerged in the tech community, and this trend is expected to continue in 2017. Altogether, members of the Forbes 400 who are involved in tech are worth $600 billion, and they stand ready to contribute to a variety of worthwhile causes.

Many of these individuals have started donating only very recently. This means that they are likely to ramp up their gifts in the coming year.

Major players like Steve Ballmer and Jeff Bezos are expected to become much more philanthropically active. Other big tech names, like Mike Krieger, Michelle Yee, and James Swartz, may start using their fortunes to support organizations that are important to them.

  1. More donations from wealthy women.

In recent years, an increasing number of women have become mega-donors, contributing to the growth of massive women’s funding networks. This trend has gained traction, and it will likely accelerate in 2017 as women continue to control more of the nation’s wealth.

Events like the recent Women’s March will likely attract many of these potential female givers from the sidelines. As a result, women are expected to become heavily involved in philanthropy in the coming months.

  1. Larger gifts to educational institutions.

UC San Francisco
Image by Frank Farm | Flickr

At the very beginning of 2017, the Helen Diller Foundation made waves with its $500 million gift to the University of California, San Francisco. This gift is one of the largest made to a campus ever, coming only months after a donation of the same size was given to the University of Oregon by Phil and Penny Knight.

Additionally, not too long ago, John Paulson gave a $400 million gift to Harvard. Endowments of this magnitude are usually made by billionaires who want to ensure their legacies. Since universities are can effectively absorb large gifts, similar donations will likely to continue throughout the year.

  1. Charities and nonprofits become more engaged.

A recent buzzword in the giving community has been “accountability.” Now more than ever, donors want to know exactly what their money is being used for and how their contributions support an organization’s mission.

For that reason, it is likely that charities and nonprofits will dedicate more of their time engaging directly with donors, showing them exactly how their donations make an impact. Connecting with donors also provides opportunities for charitable and nonprofit organizations to share their stories and encourage supporters to pass their messages along.


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