The most recent program in the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Brightest Minds Series on October 2, 2012, was another look at societal trends and their effect on philanthropy. The speaker was Dr. Susan Raymond, executive vice president, Changing Our World Inc. Her presentation was clear and well-illustrated. The over-arching trends she discussed are familiar to many: the slowly recovering US economy, continued high rates of unemployment, growing wealth of women, and the birth of new philanthropic giving models. She left the audience with much to ponder. Several of her observations are particularly intriguing.
Those looking for increased donations from Baby-Boomers, who should be in their peak giving years, may be disappointed. Many Boomers are facingy reduced incomes and pensions, more debt and other financial set-backs. "25% of Boomers completely depleted their savings during the Great Recession," Raymond noted.
So where is future funding likely to come from? New philanthropists/entrepreneurs -- who are very different from 19th century business tycoons and donors like Andrew Carnegie! They are wealthy at much younger ages than earlier philanthropists and have much longer life expectancies. Most importantly, they have nontraditional/radical ideas about how to improve global society.
The challenge for those running philanthropic driven efforts today is that they must build their skills so they can work with a new generation of donors and their new strategies/structures, while managing ongoing, traditional fundraising activities. This situation opens up a number of questions. Where and how will current managers learn new skills? Are new leaders being adequately equipped for them in academic programs?
Kudos to Washington Grantmakers for organizing the Brightest Minds 2012 colloquium series ,which celebrated its 20th anniversary. The speakers focused us on the opportunities and challenges that may beset us. Forewarned is forearmed!