‘Blueprint 2015’ Forecasts Year of Digital Innovation

As the use of digital technologies for social good accelerates, organizations and networks comprising the emerging social economy must focus on and ensure the safety, security, and privacy of digital tools for social action, leading philanthropy scholar Lucy Bernholz argues in Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015 (36 pages, PDF).

Published by GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, the sixth edition of Bernholz' annual industry forecast provides a global perspective on the ways in which digital infrastructure and data are being used in the pursuit of social good by nonprofits and foundations, for-profit firms, religious groups, informal associations, and a variety of networks. Among other things, the report highlights case studies from betterplace lab's Lab Around the World initiative, a fourteen-country exploration of "digital social innovation" that shows how digital civil society is blossoming in places with vastly different government structures and cultural practices.

The report also presents a number of "big ideas that will matter" in 2015, from the increasing diversity of global civil society, to strategies for promoting digital innovation, to some of the ways digital innovation is shaping human rights, health, and education. Bernholz’ predictions for 2015 include the likelihood that a growing number of foundations and nonprofits will craft policies for data privacy and use that move beyond basic compliance approaches and align more closely with their missions; that the public will demand more transparency around giving by social welfare organizations and other tax-exempt groups; that the push for greater coordination of disaster philanthropy will gain traction; and that impact investing will receive regular coverage from mainstream business and financial media outlets.

"A great deal of innovation in the use of digital for social good around the world is coming from outside nonprofits," said Bernholz, a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. "We are seeing an increase in the diversity of the types of organizations that participate in the global social economy, partly due to the fact that new and ubiquitous digital tools level the playing field."

"Digital Innovation in Civil Society Is a Growing Global Phenomenon." Foundation Center Press Release 12/09/2014.