Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. 

Foundation Center is pleased to again partner with Lucy to offer the Blueprint as a GrantCraft guide. The Blueprint provides an overview of the current landscape, points to major trends, and directs your attention to horizons where you can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year.

Tweet about this year's Blueprint using #blueprint16


  • Insight: Big Ideas that Matter for 2016
  • Foresight: Predictions for 2016
  • Buzzword Watch
  • Hindsight: Renovations to Previous Forecasts
  • Glimpses of the Future
  • takeaways
    Layers of Change

    How are we to make sense of the changing nature of work and the demands of digital capacities in thinking about civil society? Several years ago, Stewart Brand of the Long Now Foundation posited a “pace layer” approach to thinking about change. As shown in his graphic below, he notes that change happens at different paces—some is much more rapid than others. While some components change rapidly, others change more slowly. These time scales should not be seen as being in tension; it is not better to be fast or slow. There is a role and reason for the pace of each layer. While fashion can change with the season, governance requires deliberation and recourse and therefore moves more slowly. The most trouble arises when one of these layers moves at a rate other than its norm, such as we are now experiencing as nature shifts quickly due to global warming.

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  • takeaways
    The Structure of Work

    What do tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, former labor union leader Andy Stern, and investigative author Barbara Ehrenreich have in common? Now add in the Rockefeller, Russell Sage, and Open Society foundations; Obamacare; Uber; and Rosie the Robot from the 1970s cartoon series The Jetsons, and what do you get? They’re all contributing to—or thinking and writing about—the future of work.

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  • takeaways
    Guiding Principles and Values for Digital Civil Society

    The definition of digital civil society gives us a starting point. The definition contains three key elements: voluntary action, private resources, and public benefit. Each one contains a set of values that need to be applied to digital resources.

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  • takeaways
    Foresight: Predictions for 2016

    What’s in store for the year ahead? How will the big shifts discussed in the Insights section affect your work next year?

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  • takeaways
    Buzzword Watch

    Ever since Network for Good launched back in 2001, the modifier “. . .for good” has become ubiquitous. There are computer scientists for good, search engines for good, magazines for good—the only thing I haven’t seen is “Evildoers for Good.” As a buzzword, the phrase “. . .for good” has so pervaded our vocabulary as to become genre defining, like the role of love in pop music or car crashes in action films. At the risk of buzzword overdosing, I think it’s fair to say that “. . .for good” is the uberbuzzword of the social economy. I’ve clustered the following list into “buzz-topics” that align with the broader themes of this Blueprint.

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  • takeaways Policies to Safely Manage Data

    How can nonprofits and foundations govern and use digital data ethically, safely, and effectively? This is the question addressed by a new website, 

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This is the fourth year that GrantCraft is partnering with Lucy Bernholz to publish Blueprint. GrantCraft became an editorial and publishing partner because we feel it's important to host conversations about the bigger picture context for funder work. 

Some ways you might consider using this Blueprint include:

  • With colleagues at your organization, this publication can open conversations about the context for your work and any thoughts on expanding your strategic framework.
  • With grantees, this publication can foster conversations outside of specific funding conversations that might also lend context or theory to their approaches.
  • With peers and other foundations, this publication can lead to dialogue about how we as a collective sector may contribute to or challenge the predictions for 2016, and if we're tuned into current trends and buzzwords.
  • With our GrantCraft community, you can consider submitting your own reactions and resources related to themes discussed in this guide.