The T-Rex and the Snowshoe Hare
What’s next for philanthropy in the 2020s
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has rarely, if ever, seemed like an apt metaphor for the field of philanthropy.
After all, philanthropy is largely insulated from many of the forces that drive adaptation in other industries and circumstances. Permanent endowments and strong long-term investment returns have buffered funders against the financial pressures faced by many grantees and communities. The legal and regulatory frameworks for most funders in the United States haven’t changed significantly since the Tax Reform Act of 1969. And while sustained public critique has the power to change the field, it’s hard to know what will actually stick—a brief skim of the thousands of articles that assert “philanthropy must” or “philanthropy needs to” change shows that most critiques simply fade away over time.
So, with relatively low financial, regulatory, and public pressure, what’s next for philanthropy usually looks a lot like what has been.
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