What will philanthropy be made of in 2024?

What will philanthropy be made of in 2024?

“2024 calls for a significant change in the way philanthropy is approached.” (Photo: courtesy)

Text by Daniel H. Lanteigne, ASC, C.Dir., CFRE, CRHA (he/she)

READERS’ MAIL. As with all beginnings of the year, many of us make lists. Good resolutions here, great sermons there. You see, I will not be an exception. Because 2024 cannot be a philanthropic year perceived as a long and silent river. On the contrary. Continuity cannot be the order of the day here. A look, very personal but also composed of great insights and introspection, at what the philanthropic sector expects (or at least should) this year.

Dialogue and trust

The relationship between donors and organizations sometimes resembles an old couple. There’s a lot of respect, for sure. But there is sometimes a certain lack, let’s say communication. And this dialogue must be provoked by being authentic, even vulnerable, so that trust can either continue or, in certain cases, even be reborn. Because while philanthropy, by becoming more professional, has acquired parameters for accountability and impact measurement, the fact remains that it is based on a central aspect: trust. And I assure you, according to Edelman’s confidence barometer, there is no crisis of confidence, albeit an observable decline. But to use the old couple’s metaphor, should we wait until we fall into indifference or make the effort proactively?

Dream and dare to think big

If you’re like me, the last charity articles you’ve read have been highlighting the impending service outage or the possible end of a program due to lack of funding. So for these organizations, dreaming and daring to think big can seem completely disconnected. I admit that. It’s like asking for a fire to be put out and planning a renovation at the same time. This is unrealistic and even disrespectful to many. But at the same time, we have to give ourselves this collective space to stop focusing on just putting out fires all the time. Our society desperately needs large projects that will support, structure and above all inspire current and future generations. Our philanthropy needs to be nimble enough to patch the bleeding, but it also needs to figure out how to simply avoid the bleeding.

Check the dependency references

Diversification of resources is essential in both investment and financing. Because although every donor is the most important donor, it would be more than reckless to become financially dependent on them. Here’s a little message for donors: if you love something so much, make sure it doesn’t rely solely on your generosity. Contribute to its sustainability by gathering other benefactors. And also, why not use it to maintain support and loyalty to causes already supported while embracing a new organization, perhaps more marginal, perhaps more specialized, but which benefits from less visibility and therefore less funding. I had the pleasure of meeting dozens of them in 2023 as part of the Les Héros Anonymes program and participating in a rare disease funding podcast. You’ll find some ideas there, I’m sure.

Back to basics: People giving to people

I was recently reminded that one of the founders of BNP Philanthropic Performance, the late Jean-Robert Nolet, swore by this mindset: people give to people. Of course, all bulk offers, such as pre-holiday emails. But there is also harassment that takes place between two individuals, an encounter where the relationship between the two people will be key in any future philanthropic investment. So the main thing is not necessarily to have the most beautiful brochures, but above all to have the most beautiful relationships. Having the lawyer for the donor with the right project (or the right mission), the right time, the right amount, and of course the attitude. The main thing, that is.

Redefining the philanthropist

Not long ago, the Mallet Institute surveyed Quebecers to see if they defined themselves as philanthropists. The response was striking, with only 19% considering it, while 75% made a philanthropic gesture. Modesty? Sure, for the most part. Because the role of philanthropist has long been, and still is today, associated with a rich family fortune, as well as gifts in the form of “telethon” format checks worth several thousand or millions of dollars. But really, we are all philanthropists in our own way. And it is by breaking down its inhibitions as a society that Quebec will once again be able to take pride in its philanthropic culture, often accused of lagging behind the rest of Canada.

Redefining charity

But if we must make a concerted effort to redefine the role of the philanthropist (and, above all, make it our own), we must do the same with the concept of charity. It is therefore reassuring to know that the Canada Revenue Agency has set up an advisory committee, which includes my colleague Christian Bolduc, another co-founder of BNP. Because if society evolves and becomes more complex, there is a whole sector, the charity sector, that absolutely has to stay in tune with that complexity. And besides, what is this goodness supposed to be for? Meet the growing demand? Docking for large projects? Just breathe? I don’t have the answer (nor do I claim to have one), but a fundamental reflection is in order. Both for each organization and for the sector.

Create qualified succession

Like many industries, philanthropy is not immune to talent shortages. And while an entire generation of philanthropy experts flirts with retirement, new blood isn’t enough. And the closure of the University of Montreal’s certificate in philanthropy management, which has been replaced by a modest micro-program, is not encouraging. An industry that has put so much effort and years into professionalization that has succeeded, but which seems to be neglected by university education, is a cause for concern. The next generation (and professionals who want and need to stay in the know) therefore have to turn to conferences or quality training outside the province due to fewer options. We can – must – do better for this vital sector of the social fabric, which according to Imagine Canada contributes more than 10% of the province’s GDP. We already welcome the establishment of the Annual Philanthropic Meeting to be held on 9. But more will need to be done, quickly.

Stay agile

Recent years have been clear evidence of the agility of the philanthropic sector. We only have to think about Bill 25, which amends the legislative provisions relating to the protection of personal data. A real headache when information about past, present and potential donors is important! However, there is also the impact of Bill 96 on Quebec’s official language. She brought from Quebec the opportunity to take the international fundraising accreditation exam, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive), because the exams are only available in English. Clearly, other challenges are emerging, such as the impact of the creation of Santé Québec, recurring funding and missions, and the unprecedented growth of needs and vulnerable communities. The industry will be able to overcome these challenges as it always has. But getting your head above water will be downright utopian for some.

Reopen the sharing conversation

Few days ago, Offers published an article on the topic of association. Nothing new until now. This topic has been on the table for years, but the economic context forces us to update our thinking. Because in order to survive, we need to reduce costs and increase revenues. But philanthropy doesn’t sell anything, so it can’t raise prices on supermarket shelves. Thus, there is an opportunity, if not a necessity, for collaboration that is certainly underutilized and deserves attention and could contribute to the creation of greater value. Be careful not to fall into the trap of saying that all organisms of the same cause should merge with each other. That’s not the point and as with everything, you have to eat the elephant one at a time.

Ah yes, artificial intelligence

The chances that recent interactions between a donor and a charity have been interrupted by artificial intelligence are relatively low. The industry is still figuring out how to find the right way to bring artificial intelligence into their operations in an ethical way. But time is running out for organizations that have not brought this topic to their board of directors. But given the investment in IT that the pandemic has required, we can understand the reluctance to invest philanthropic sums in this problem. Many opportunities open up for research, applications, communication and more. Let’s try not to miss the boat. PhiLab, Canada’s peer research network for philanthropy, addressed this issue a few months ago. Definitely include in the 2024 program!

And here, the 11th: let’s talk about salary

At the beginning of this text, I did not plan to cover the concept of salaries in philanthropy, but current events caught up with me. An article from the Canadian press that he passed on esp Press AND Obligation, made me raise my eyebrows like never before. There are some high (legitimate) salary ranges in the environmental sector, all underpinned by a more than tenuous link between remuneration and social responsibility and that ‘mobilisation’ should take precedence over expertise and therefore there is no need to pay people well if we follow the rationale. However, it is not only false but also dangerous to think that the philanthropic sector is not in competition with other industries. Philanthropy needs leaders and expertise more than ever. Let’s not fall into the simple trap and intellectual shortcut of thinking that people in nonprofits should earn as little as possible when they do so much more to improve our world than many other industries. And as a colleague in the industry, the president of the Association of Philanthropic Professionals of Canada, well pointed out: “Instead of focusing on salaries, it would be more useful to talk about the impact of these organizations. »

The year 2024 requires a significant change in the approach to philanthropy. Dialogue, trust, a bold vision, diversification of funding sources and recognition of the role of each person are key elements for strengthening the philanthropic sector.

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