Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015 is Now Available

The annual industry forecast for philanthropy was released today by GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center. Authored by scholar Lucy Bernholz, Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015 provides a global perspective on how digital data and infrastructure are being used for socially-positive purposes. The report provides evidence that beyond the realm of traditional nonprofits and foundations in the U.S., global civil society is also made up of for-profit firms, religious bodies, informal associations, and networks that are making investments in the social good and using digital tools to do it.

“A great deal of innovation in the use of digital for social good around the world is coming from outside of nonprofits,” said Lucy Bernholz, visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and author of Blueprint 2015. “We are seeing an increase in the diversity of the types of organizations that participate in the global social economy, partly due to the fact that new and ubiquitous digital tools level the playing field.”

This year’s report is informed by Berlin-based betterplace lab’s “Lab Around the World” initiative, a 14-country exploration of “digital social innovation.” Bernholz highlights a few of its case studies describing groups that are using digital technologies for social good in places as diverse as Brazil, China, and Indonesia. The examples show how digital civil society is blossoming in places with vastly different government structures and cultural practices.

Bernholz also presents big ideas that matter about digital civil society in the U.S. and abroad; the increasing organizational diversity of players in that community; strategies for promoting digital innovation; and progress in particular domains, such as human rights, health, and education. She also makes predictions for 2015 (and presents a scorecard of those she made for 2014) and considers questions for the future with regard to the use of digital tools in impact investing, the sharing economy, and political funding.

A prominent feature of each year’s Blueprint is a top 10 list of emerging philanthropy-related buzzwords, including terms like “the internet of things,” “citizen science,” and “giving days.” The Blueprint also predicts wildcard world events – unanticipated legislation, scandals, or disasters – that have the potential to mitigate or accelerate the timing of big shifts in the social economy. For example, Bernholz projects that foreign foundations working in China will face increasing oversight and public scrutiny by the Chinese government in 2015.

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015 is available for downnload here.