Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2013

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2013 is an annual industry forecast written by leading philanthropy scholar Lucy Bernholz about the social economy — private capital used for public good.

The Foundation Center and the European Foundation Centre are pleased to 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.


  • What Is the Social Economy?
  • Insight: Big Shifts that Matter
  • Foresight: Predictions for 2013
  • Hindsight: Previous Forecasts
  • Glimpses of the Future

What's in the Guide?

  • What Is the Social Economy? The social economy is one way of thinking about all of the tools we use to apply our private resources for public good. Where once this was largely the domain of charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations, we now use social businesses, impact investing, campaign contributions, social welfare organizations, peer-to-peer giving, crowdfunding platforms, and informal networks to make the change we want.
  • Insight: Big Shifts that Matter: A "digital infrastructure" is emerging for the social economy and individual actors are contributing to it, using it, and changing their work because of it. This section examines three implications of data — starting with new sharing practices by big foundations. It also discusses the rise of mobile payments as a means of individual giving, and the critical responsibilities of social economy enterprises regarding transparency and privacy.
  • Buzzword Watch: Some of the year's most-talked-about ideas and buzzwords that may catch your ear in the year ahead.
  • Foresight: Predictions for 2013: A round-up of predictions about U.S. policy, crowdfunding, technology-enabled civic engagement, social impact bonds, nonprofit challenges, and Asian philanthropists.
  • 2013 Wildcards: "Predictable unpredictables" including impact investing, policy changes, Benefit corporations, and food and water insecurity around the world.
  • Hindsight: Previous Forecasts: Lucy's scorecard for her 2012 predictions: 11 right, two wrong, and two with no data.
  • Glimpses of the Future: The social economy frame is intended to help us see the full range of business ventures, charitable efforts, philanthropy, and investment capital geared toward producing positive social results. The slow spread of alternative corporate forms (B corporations and L3Cs), the rise of businesses pursuing social missions, and the increased use of philanthropic endowments for pro-social investments all add up to a fundamentally different set of systems for using private resources for public good. This final section projects potential implications of behavior changes, policy debates, and shifting social assumptions.