For the fifth annual Blueprint forecast I finally got up the courage to venture beyond the US. Since publishing the first one, I’ve expanded my lens to focus on philanthropy and the social economy. This year I introduce another framework, which I’m calling digital civil society. Because the trends that matter tend to be global I include some lessons learned by thinking about Europe and its models of a social economy.
Blueprint 2014’s big question is what really matters about digital tools when it comes to philanthropy and the social economy? Global interconnectedness and access to data have accelerated national protest movements and reshaped how citizens interact with their cities. The ways that individuals use technology for civic action are becoming a more visible part of civil society, but their influence on the institutions of philanthropy and the social economy are a bit more obscure.
I think there are three areas where the adoption of digital practices, not just digital devices, is changing the root structure of work in the social economy. The first has to do with the nature of associations, which require a degree of privacy and freedom that may be in jeopardy online. The second has to do with the nature of ownership and governance, two ideas experiencing a cycle of reconsideration in our digital era. And the third takes us back to data and the way they might become a backbone resource for the social economy.
I explore these ideas further, and offer my annual lists of philanthropy buzzwords, predictions and wildcards, in Blueprint 2014: Philanthropy and the Social Economy, now available for free download.
Lucy Bernholz is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where she co-leads the Digital Civil Society Lab, and at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She writes about all things digitally philanthropic at philanthropy2173.com.