At the Foundation Center’s annual conference, its president Bradford K. Smith discussed trends in philanthropy and how they affect the Foundation Center.
The top five philanthropy trends are:
1) Growing--There are more billionaires every day. The Gates Foundation is encouraging all billionaires to give away half their wealth. It is predicted that giving will go up 2 - 4% in spite of the economy.
2) Global--The wealthiest man in the world is Mexican. There are a couple of Chinese billionaires in the top ten. The Foundation Center is adding more international foundations to their databases.
3) Not just about giving money--foundations are increasingly using targeted investing and subsidized loans as tools. They also offer staff, advice, and long-term business plans.
4) Technology--There is an expectation that organizations will be available online, on social networks and through mobile devices. Online giving sites, like Global Giving, connect directly to donors with no mediation. On the other hand, only 23% of foundations have web sites and 76% have 4 staff or less, so they are still filling out tax forms by hand in some cases. The Foundation Center is encouraging foundations to embrace technology by requesting electronic submissions and suggesting grant management software, as well as showing which Foundations are using Twitter, Facebook, etc. Their new web site Grantcraft offers guides, videos and training for Foundation staff who want to learn about best practices in the field.
5) Transparency--in this information age, there is an expectation that information on who gives what to whom is available. The Foundation Center is encouraging this trend with its web site, Glasspockets.org.
The Foundation Center and its cooperating collections help both grant seekers and grant makers deal with the changes in philanthropy. To quote a conference attendee, “The Foundation Center assists doers who want to do better. If your org/enterprise wants to be the best it can be, you need the Foundation Center's resources and services."