Future of Philanthropy

Generated on 5th May 2018

This decade sees philanthropy at a pivotal point. The evolving geopolitical landscape, the rapid creation of new wealth and a greater awareness of how philanthropy can create social change have already led to exciting innovation and new thinking. This is influencing approaches to giving and the implementation of social responsibility initiatives across the world. Building on previous research, the Future Agenda team focused in depth on the future of Philanthropy via nine high level discussions which were held in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, London (x2), Mumbai, Oxford, Quito, Singapore and Washington DC.

During our conversations we explored the key interconnected drivers of change, the changing ways of giving and the impact that technology has had on the sector. Finally, as societal attitudes, behaviours and commercial common sense adjust to a connected and data driven world, key questions were raised to help organisation make more informed decisions about the future.



This report shares the findings from the Future of Philanthropy Open Foresight research project. It identifies and discusses some common challenges today, and also explores several shared ambitions. What is clear from all our discussions is that we are seeing a fundamental shift in when we give, how we give, how we receive and how change is created through philanthropy. In addition, the report highlights several important emerging opportunities such as the rise of the global elite, the increasing influence of female philanthropists and the increasing demand for transparency. Some of the issues addressed are specific to key locations but most are universal and therefore of relevance to most cities.


Introduction and context

Philanthropy, or private resources for the public good, has a huge positive benefit on society and the world in which we live. Our individual and collective desire to maximise positive impact means that, as the world continues to evolve, so too must the practice of philanthropy.

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Interconnected Drivers of Change

There are three significant, inter-related, macro drivers of change that are common challenges impacting philanthropists around the world today. They are Power, Knowledge and, inherent to both of these, Trust. They will shape the evolution of philanthropy over the next decade.


Changing Ways to Give

Many giving mechanisms have existed for decades. However, the last decade or so has seen a blossoming of new ways to give; at one end we see the growth of Impact Investing and at the other crowd-funding. Looking ahead, as the world becomes increasingly cautious, there is increased fear of corruption, expect greater scrutiny around how money is raised and the way it is distributed.

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Conclusion and questions

As we move forward, there are many issues impacting the future of philanthropy. Some of these will drive change for donors, charities, intermediaries and for corporates. Others will require action by governments and regulators. Here are a series of questions that could be considered in the planning of a future agenda.

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Our Partners

Alpha Catalyst
British Asian Trust
Global Giving
New Philanthropy Capital
The Fore

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