Predictions for Civil Society in 2016
10 December 2015 at 11:07 am
The changing nature of employment, the spread of automation and the liabilities around collecting digital data will raise serious questions for civil society about how their systems of social support must adapt, a US philanthropy expert has predicted for 2016.
The US Foundation Center has published the Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016, an annual forecast authored by scholar Lucy Bernholz, which contains predictions of global events and developments in the coming year that are intended to help the social sector plan for the future.
Bernholz documented the changes underway in the nature of employment as more than half of workers may soon be freelancers, the spread of automation, and the fluctuating value and liabilities associated with prevalence of digital data; the need to balance data collection against personal privacy rights.
Bernholz, a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, said that as these developments took place in the broader economy, they raised serious questions for civil society about how systems of social supports must adapt accordingly.
"Philanthropy can no longer rely on a system that was based on a world of the past," Bernholz said.
"The question now is, how will the activities, policies, and values need to change among those who are using private resources for the public good?"
For example, Bernholz said she envisions that at least one new foundation program focused on biological privacy would launch and that social impact bonds would grow in popularity, despite disappointing results in those instruments to date.
To accompany her insights on the "big ideas that matter" around the changing structure of work and the forces shaping civil society, Bernholz included a new worksheet to help philanthropies and other social enterprises assess how prepared their organisations are for the broader societal shifts.
In her "glimpses of the future" for digital civil society – which focussed on voluntary action, private resources, and public benefit – she said the principles for the ethical, safe and effective use of data required active consent and placed a high value on privacy.
“Whereas digital data is the newest resource in civil society's toolkit, standards and practices around the governance of that data still need to be developed,” she said.
In her career as a consultant, writer, and blogger, Bernholz has established herself as an authority in the complex arena of data and philanthropy.