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September 20, 2021

What’s Next for Philanthropy in the 2020s?

At this transitional moment, the potential for accelerating change goes beyond just the social and environmental issues that philanthropy aims to address; it also applies to the practice of philanthropy itself.

The compounding crises of the past two years—the health and economic emergencies of COVID-19, the widespread reckoning on racial justice, growing political polarization and violence, and the looming threat of climate change—have marked a watershed moment for the field of philanthropy.

Although philanthropy is often insulated from shifts outside the field, funders have begun to recognize that they are no longer immune to responding to external changes. When the pandemic hit, many funders quickly launched emergency response funds, relaxed grant reporting requirements, and converted programmatic gifts to general operating support. Their reaction shows just how quickly long-held norms of practice can change in a crisis.

Now social change leaders are working with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility. They’re hoping to use the current disruption of the status quo as a way to rethink long-entrenched systems and practices. But as we look to emerge from the pandemic, the sense of hope for fundamental change is accompanied by a push to return to normalcy and the pull of old ways of working. What if the post-pandemic years could represent an opportunity for philanthropy to begin to more fundamentally reimagine itself and the role it plays in society—in ways both large and small?

Click here to read the full report by the Monitor Institute of Deloitte.