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Predict-a-palooza: Civil Society Forecast 2018

Blueprint, Virtual Roundtables

An expert panel and our virtual audience forecast the most important trends and challenges facing digital civil society in 2018

Civil society—our shared space and work for the public good—faces startling new pressures and possibilities in this dynamic, digital age. What trends, issues, and challenges will shape or shake up civil society in 2018? We kicked off the new year with a virtual roundtable to share our predictions, including insights from Philanthropy and Digital Civil society: Blueprint 2018, Lucy Bernholz’s annual industry forecast.

In sharing their personal predictions, wildcards, and favorite (or least favorite) buzzwords, panelists touched on the new US tax policy, giving days, rising inequality, the respective roles of government and civil society in serving the public good, and more.

Audio Podcast

Watch the video or listen below, and visit the our podcast on iTunes. View highlights and resources below, and follow us on Twitter @dgtlimpact for updates.


Panelist Top Predictions As Rated by the Live Audience

  • Foundations will expand their scope of giving: Julie Broome predicted that, amid continued political upheaval and social change, foundations will support a much wider range of groups beyond registered nonprofits and NGOs and start to work with grassroots social movements, artists, journalists, and others.
  • Wealthy donors will grow their giving and influence: David Callahan predicted that the wealthy will continue to grow their dominance over civil society as their giving becomes an even greater share of all charitable donations.
  • The boundary between charitable and political giving is increasingly tenuous: David Callahan predicted that record giving will flow to influence a midterm election, thereby underscoring that the supposed firewall between charitable and political giving is very porous.

More Highlights

  • Europe will be a global leader in setting new norms for digital privacy policy: With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) scheduled to take effect in May, Lucy Bernholz predicted that the E.U. would become the new standard bearer for digital privacy policy, pushing back against the dominance of U.S. digital companies in setting norms across the globe.
  • Blockchain will be tested at greater scale: Trista Harris predicted that a few large, international NGOs will test accepting donations through blockchain technology to increase transparency.
  • Movement building will expand across international borders: Crystal Hayling offered a wildcard prediction that new alliances will emerge across the global north and south, such as in the work of Black Lives Matter to build bridges and activate voices in Brazil.

From the Audience

  • Prediction: Cross-border intermediation by large international NGOs will go down.
  • Prediction: The conversation around philanthropy and governments will grow in regard to which entity has what role in terms of addressing community problems (e.g., Detroit and Flint, Michigan).
  • New buzzword: “Bunching of Charitable Giving” – consolidating charitable gifts into one year rather than spreading over a few years to take advantage of tax deduction.

Speaker-Recommended Resources

Shared by Lucy Bernholz

Bernholz’s annual industry forecast, Philanthropy and Digital Civil Society: Blueprint 2018

Shared by David Callahan

Annual forecast from Inside Philanthropy, Philanthropy Forecast, 2018: Trends and Issues to Watch

Inside Philanthropy year in philanthropy annual review with spotlights on key figures and developments in the field, Philanthropy Awards, 2017

Shared by Julie Broome

Look for the 2018 issue of Ariadne’s annual forecast for global and European civil society in March. View past forecasts and other resources here.

Shared by Trista Harris

Managing Exponential Change, an article from Trista’s blog, New Voices of Philanthropy

Understanding the Two Curves of Philanthropy, a video explaining the “two curves” framework of philanthropy in our changing world.

Shared by Crystal Hayling

Learn more about the work of The Libra Foundation.