Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What Philanthropy Trends Do Arts Leaders Need To Be Aware Of?

Gary Steuer leading a roundtable at the Americans for the Arts Convention in Nashville, 2014 (c) Americans for the Arts
At this year's Americans for the Arts convention in Nashville, which ended on Sunday, I had the pleasure of hosting two roundtable conversations on trends in philanthropy. As often happens with such occasions it provided the impetus for me to give some thought to what was I seeing in the philanthropic field that arts groups need to be aware of. This is of particular interest to me because I think all too often arts leaders are not watching closely enough overall philanthropic trends and thinking, and therefore are taken by surprise when a funder shifts course in a way that affects prospects for support. Yet these course shifts are often predictable if you are watching the winds, and if you understand where they are coming from, you may have an opportunity to make a persuasive case that your arts program can help get them where they want to go (rather than being left in the wake, to stretch the nautical metaphor further).

To help guide the conversation I prepared a list of recent articles on philanthropic trends/strategies that I felt would be helpful: Strategic Philanthropy, Effective Altruism, Collective Impact, Mission Investing, Giving While Living, and Emergent Philanthropy. I am sure there other "buzz-words" or trends I could have included - feel free to share your own in the comments. I was also informed by a recent talk by Sterling Speirn, former head of the Kellogg Foundation, who spoke at a luncheon for the Colorado Association of Funders - very informative and thought-provoking! (Here is a link to a TedX talk he gave on mission investing.)  Here is my reading list:

Strategic Philanthropy (Outcome-Oriented Philanthropy) -

Effective Altruism -

Collective Impact –

Impact Investing/Mission-related Investing -

Giving While Living – Limited Life Foundations –

Emergent Philanthropy –


  1. Another area of growth - giving circles in communities of color - such as those supported by the Community Investment Network (www.thecommunityinvestment.org). Everyday folks redefining philanthropy on their own terms and making in impact in the process.

  2. Thanks Chrissy! Great point. And I think giving circles in general are an impprtant trend. Donors - especially those with smaller giving capacity - love the idea of pooling resources for greater impact, and to meet and work with other like-minded donors. The Arts Affinity Group at the Denver Foundation is a great local example of this.