Where Might the Future Lead?

Given all the different variables, many futures are possible. Here are sample scenarios that might come to pass (in whole or in part) over the next several years:

Parallel Cohabitation

Different enterprise forms remain distinct but good neighbors. We focus on sequencing different types of investment, from charitable to investing, as well as the roles of nonprofits, social enterprises, businesses, and government. There develops a coherent, balanced, and macro view of the social economy in which the different forms are each dedicated to the most efficient and effective use of their resources. Digital data and infrastructure are distinct across sectors.

Deliberate Cross-Fertilization

Hybrid experimentation becomes the norm. The incentives for using private resources for public benefit are freed from institutional form and aligned instead with activities — so any kind of enterprise can be rewarded for “doing good” as long as that good is demonstrable, measurable, and accounted for. New breeds of organizations such as social data cooperatives and pro-benefit businesses become the norm. Digital data and infrastructure are shared by all.

Perpendicular Antagonism

Different enterprises are recognized as competitors for scarce resources and distinguished by documented outcomes. Incentives, organizational practices, and regulations are differentiated to encourage only the most effective solutions to particular problems. Distinctive strategies are highlighted and bright lines are drawn in practice and policy regarding commercial benefit, social benefits, and public responsibilities. Value tensions such as anonymity or disclosure are enforced. Digital data and infrastructure are partitioned by sector.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2015.