So this is kind of interesting, and I’m not sure yet what to make of it. Independent Sector, a coalition of 600 charities, foundations, and corporate giving programs working to strengthen the nonprofit sector, has launched an online forum, called FutureLab to answer the question: “What can we do right now, as a nonprofit community, to create a better, more vibrant 2020?” They are attempting to spur a “national conversation to explore the challenges and possibilities that will affect the nonprofit and foundation community for years to come and to develop groundbreaking strategies that will shape our future.” Those are massive questions and a massive undertaking. But didn’t I just say that the nonprofit sector needs to be more bold? Perhaps this is a step in the right direction.
FutureLab has broken this broad conversation into nine discussion areas which are:
- Global Engagement
- Integration with Religious Groups
- Responsibilities of Government and Nonprofits
- Civic Engagement
- 21st Century Economy
And they also have a “coffeehouse” area where people can contribute ideas that don’t fit into those categories.
Through social media and other channels they are encouraging anyone connected to the nonprofit sector (volunteers, staff, board members, consultants, etc.) to contribute their ideas for what could make the sector better. You can comment on existing ideas, submit your own ideas, or vote on contributed ideas.
It doesn’t look like many people are contributing yet, and you have to wonder what the end goal is and what will be done with the volume of ideas and information they are hoping to gather. Will anything come of it? Will anything change? Independent Sector’s goals for the project are a bit tenuous:
Members of the nonprofit and philanthropic community are encouraged not only to review the content posted during this discussion, but to draw on relevant insights to inform their own planning and decision making. Independent Sector…will produce a summary of highlights that will be made available to nonprofits and foundations. Independent Sector may also identify ideas from the conversation to pursue as part of its ongoing work.
But there are some heavy hitters involved. The funding for the project comes from major foundations like Gates, Annie E. Casey, Skoll, Kellogg Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Sea Change Capital. So something interesting has to come out of it, right? Anyway, it will be interesting to watch. If you’re interested, join the discussion.