Having spent the last year serving at the Council on Foundations I have developed a keen interest in U.S philanthropy and especially in learning from trends in the U.S to apply relevant knowledge back home in Jamaica. That said, I wish to share some interesting predictions about the sector for 2018.

According to the Johnson Center, the nonprofit sector in the United States – a field that is quickly changing- employs approximately one in 10 workers in the country. A group of experts and thought leaders at Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy have examined changes in the field and identified 11 trends in philanthropy they expect to materialize in 2018.

The trends, which touch on a number of topics, include “how philanthropy relates to and will respond to changes in demographics, data, government, diversity and geography, along with what those changes mean to the industry and practice of philanthropy.” The full report can be found online at: bit.ly/2018PhilanthropyTrends


The Trends:

  1. Giving More by Giving Together: It is anticipated that we will see the growth of more accessible and varied forms of philanthropy including the continued growth of giving circles and other collaborative giving groups.
  2. Next Gen Donors and the “Golden Age of Giving”: It is also anticipated that Millennials and Gen-Xers with the capacity for making major gifts will likely become the most significant generation of philanthropists in history in part due to new strategies and innovations that are shaking up the field.
  3. The Globalization of Philanthropy: While most giving remains, local there is a trend toward philanthropic practices that cross international borders in a progressively more connected world.
  4. Defining Progress with Place-Based Philanthropy: Increasingly, funders are seeking to be more strategic in their giving and increase the probability of making a change and measuring it by focusing on a specific location.
  5. Philanthropy’s Quest for Equity: Massive demographic shifts are taking place in the U. S that will require the development of new strategies and tools that will allow the field of philanthropy to effectively address equity issues such as access to health, education and the workforce.
  6. Inclusivity Means Asking the Right Questions: Evidence-based decision-making is being increasingly practiced within philanthropy with more persons paying greater attention to how data is collected and making sure that collection, analysis and dissemination methods promote inclusivity and take into account cultural differences.
  7. Data to What End?: The trend this year is helping donors “right-size” data inquiry for effective measurement without overtaxing organizations, some of which are challenged by limited capacity.
  8. New Frameworks for Evaluating Impact: Another trend for 2018 is a new approach to the evaluation of results (developmental evaluation) on complex issues that involve many community players, systems or organizations.
  9. A Growing Commitment to Building Nonprofit Capacity: The desire for a more diverse and inclusive nonprofit sector is driving a trend toward increasing investment in nonprofit capacity (including more financial support to the infrastructure of the sector itself) with an aim of achieving greater impact.
  10. Governments and Nonprofits: New Partnerships or Paradigm Shifts?: there is an increasing trend toward partnerships between nonprofits and the government and away from the practice of working on similar issues independently.
  11. How Repealing the Johnson Amendment Could Change the Game for Nonprofits: The recently proposed repeal of the Johnson Amendment could change how society at large views the laws that govern nonprofits. The Amendment currently prohibits any activity that expresses support for or opposition to a candidate running for political office. A repeal could change philanthropy in many ways including making it vulnerable to claims of partisanship and allowing “dark campaign funding” to invade the nonprofit sector.

These trends highlight important changes that could face the philanthropic sector in the U.S in 2018.

A full copy of the report is available online here: bit.ly/2018PhilanthropyTrends