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Top Philanthropy Trends in 2021

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Top Philanthropy Trends in 2021

(Photo : Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels)

Like so many parts of our society, philanthropy faces a critical moment in its history.

From the economic and healthcare crises caused by the pandemic to the political unrest surrounding racial justice issues to the increasing natural disasters brought by climate change - this could be the most pivotal moment for philanthropic organizations in decades.

This particularly delicate moment in time has many people asking: What's next for philanthropy? There's a rising feeling that the industry must radically change. Charitable work now takes place "in a context that is radically different from the environment in which many of its current models, systems, and structures were developed," wrote the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Major changes were coming to philanthropy even before the pandemic came along and sent them into overdrive.

"Philanthropy-which has been insulated from such shifts outside the field in the past-has come to recognize that it is not immune to responding to these external changes," according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Let's take a look at some of the biggest trends in philanthropy.

Women Are Driving Force of Charity

While women have historically been important drivers of philanthropic work, that's more true now than ever before.

Women are the driving force behind charitable giving in the majority of American households, and continue to exert an outsized influence on philanthropy in all countries, and especially in the U.S.

In fact, women are more likely to participate in charitable giving, regardless of race and ethnicity.

They like the idea of collective giving, and so are more likely to join giving circles. More than half of giving circles in the U.S. (56 percent) are composed only of women.

They are also more likely to donate to charities than men of similar income and background.

"An important explanation as to why women tend to be more philanthropic is attributed to our thoughts and feelings behind charitable giving," Sarah Hanley wrote for Catholic Philly. "According to a study done by the Women's Philanthropy Institute, women tend to make decisions based on empathy for others."

In Education, Philanthropy Must Embrace Change

Few institutions have been disrupted more by Covid than education.

In a recent expose, The New York Times explored just how much the US education system has failed its students in rural areas in a piece called "The Tragedy of America's Rural Schools."

That's despite 25 years of huge sums of public dollars and philanthropic support to reform the education system, with special attention given to helping students that have been underserved by trying to improve their literacy and the number of students who enroll in college.

But it hasn't worked. According to a Inside Philanthropy contributor, those funding education must commit to "transformative efforts that push beyond outdated models and middling reforms, toward the human-centered education system that our students need more than ever."

"While investments in new academic standards, stronger accountability systems and improving educator effectiveness helped raise awareness about inequities in the education system, the overall outcomes have been disappointing, given the billions of dollars invested," wrote Ulcca Joshi Hansen.

Technology Will Become Critically Important

There's no question that technology is driving revolutionary changes across nearly every industry, including finance, healthcare, education - and philanthropy.

The technological changes coming to philanthropy were detailed in a recent article from Silicon Hills, a site focused on the technology boom happening in Central Texas.

In the article, Ryan Ginard, the Director of Development for UT's Computer Science Department, discussed several ways that "technology is going to accelerate this evolution" of the philanthropy sector.

Ginard said that automation is going to make organizations more efficient and effective, and that artificial intelligence, or AI, is going to help identify donors that have either been overlooked or undervalued, and smart contracts will save workers hours of time in grant writing.

Those changes are already evident with charities like Code for America, SamaSource, Ushahidi, and ME to WE

"The list goes on and on," Ginard said. "I'm a big proponent of 'feeding the machines' with the hope that machine learning will help inform new solutions to some of society's biggest social issues such as homelessness and poverty.

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