For many in the nonprofit sector, summer is a quiet time for assessing and planning—the fiscal year has just come to a close, and with it, efforts to reach year-end fundraising goals before the clock strikes twelve on the end of June. As we look forward into FY18, we’re noticing some interesting changes in the ways that individual and institutional donors are deciding how to spend their charitable dollars, and how they’re deferring to other people’s expertise as they make those gifts.


1.     Crowdsourcing Inspiration: By now, you’ve probably heard all about Jeff Bezos’s Twitter call for philanthropy ideas, and the thousands of responses he’s gotten from the Twitterverse. Perhaps you’ve also been following the longer-form responses to his desire to put his charitable dollars toward short-term solutions to big problems.* Regardless of how Bezos ultimately decides to give, he’s opened the floodgates for a nation-wide discussion on the community organizations we value the most and how to best support them.

2.     Trust-Based Philanthropy: Sometimes referred to as “Grantee-Centric Philanthropy,” this is something we’re starting to see from foundation funders. The premise is simple: lighten the grant paperwork load on grantees to ensure they still have the bandwidth to do the great work those grants are intended to support. Examples of organizations that have taken up this philosophy are: Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, The Whitman Institute, and Peery Foundation. This is by no means widespread (yet!) but could be an indicator of the changing nature of grantor-grantee relationships.


These two examples signal some potentially big deviations from traditional modes of giving. We’ve yet to see how they’ll play out in the long run, but they both provide fodder for interesting conversations about how we relate to and communicate with our development staffs and our donors.


*For example, ”What Jeff Bezos Gets Right and Wrong with His Unorthodox Approach to Philanthropy” and “An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos: Please Think Again About Your Philanthropy.”

The now-famous Jeff Bezos call for ideas

The now-famous Jeff Bezos call for ideas