blueprint-2017-reportThe distinctions between charitable and political funding are blurring
just as citizens’ digital activities are tracked more precisely than ever.

For those of our readers who follow Lucy Bernholz and her annual industry forecast, Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 is now available.

The Blueprint provides an overview of the current landscape, points to major trends, and directs attention to horizons where one can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year.

Bernholz, a Stanford scholar and self-described philanthropy wonk, warns civil society about two trends it must address:

  • The boundaries between philanthropic and political activity are blurring as civil society’s norms of privacy and anonymity are used to shield political activity, which should be transparent in a democracy;
  • Government surveillance and the commercial ownership of civil society’s digital infrastructure combine to threaten our rights to free expression and association.

The report, released by GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, puts civil society on notice that it needs to fight for changes, such as:

  • More transparent disclosure to ensure clearer boundaries between philanthropic and partisan political activities and maintain public trust in philanthropic organizations;
  • A stronger voice for civil society in shaping the digital systems and technologies that have become fundamental to the workings and decision making of our democracy.

Bernholz concludes that, “Especially in uncertain times, the organizations and activists who make up civil society need to understand, protect, advocate for, and use their digital data and infrastructure just as they use their financial and human resources – safely, ethically, and effectively.”

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 is available for free download.