Dangers Civil Society Has to Address in 2017
The distinctions between charitable and political funding are blurring just as citizens' digital activities are tracked more precisely than ever.
New York, NY — December 14, 2016. Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017, the eighth annual industry forecast written by Stanford scholar and self-described philanthropy wonk, Lucy Bernholz, warns civil society about two trends it must address:
- The boundaries between philanthropic and political activity are blurring as civil society's norms of privacy and anonymity are used to shield political activity, which should be transparent in a democracy
- Government surveillance and the commercial ownership of civil society's digital infrastructure combine to threaten our rights to free expression and association
The report, released by GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, puts civil society on notice that it needs to fight for changes, such as:
- More transparent disclosure to ensure clearer boundaries between philanthropic and partisan political activities and maintain public trust in philanthropic organizations
- A stronger voice for civil society in shaping the digital systems and technologies that have become fundamental to the workings and decision making of our democracy
Bernholz concludes that, "Especially in uncertain times, the organizations and activists who make up civil society need to understand, protect, advocate for, and use their digital data and infrastructure just as they use their financial and human resources — safely, ethically, and effectively."To help civil society do so, the report includes worksheets that organizations can use to apply the ideas in Blueprint to their own use of data.Zohra Zori, vice president for social sector outreach at Foundation Center, calls Blueprint 2017 "a clear caution that the rules are changing and civil society has to — and should want to — protect its work and values. It's important, especially this year, that people pay attention to what Lucy is saying and take action."Download this insightful analysis of the state of civil society for free at grantcraft.org/blueprint17 and comment on or share it using #blueprint17. Members of the press and everyone involved in civil society, from foundation and nonprofit leaders to policymakers and IT experts, are invited to attend a special event in San Francisco to discuss the topics raised in Blueprint 2017 on Thursday, January 12, 2017 from 1–2:30 pm PST at the Foundation Center West office or follow the livestream.
About Foundation Center
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit foundationcenter.org or call (212) 620-4230.
GrantCraft offers resources that address questions confronting funders worldwide. This freely available platform offers content in formats such as guides, videos, and blog posts across various strategy and issue areas, all grounded in in the practical wisdom of grantmakers. It is part of Foundation Center's suite of knowledge services, which connects donors to tools and resources they need to be more strategic.
About Lucy Bernholz
As a consultant, writer, and blogger, Bernholz has established herself as an incisive authority in the complex arena of data and philanthropy. The Huffington Post calls her a "philanthropy game changer," Fast Company magazine named her Philanthropy2173 blog "Best in Class," and she has been named to The Nonprofit Times' annual list of 50 most influential people.