Philanthropy in 2008

The Chronicle of Philanthropy solicited predictions for 2008 from a variety of people. You can find the full feature with entries from Larry Brilliant of, Daniel Ben-Horin of Compumentor/Techsoup, myself and others here.

I decided to make a list of potential surprises rather than flat out predictions. Here’s my entry:

In the tradition of stock-market commentator Byron Wein, this list of 10 surprises for 2008 represents events that have a very real chance of occurring even though they are considered long shots by most people.

This is not a list of what will happen. It is a list of what could happen, and just might, with a little bit of luck.

  1. The chief executive officer of a large nonprofit will launch a blog that quickly becomes the most widely read philanthropy blog. Fund raising at the nonprofit will exceed expectations on the back of a huge number of small, online donations.
  2. A foundation will decide to start publishing online the rationale for why it makes each of its grants. Its grantees will see increased donations from individuals who tell them they first heard of their organizations on the foundation’s Web site.
  3. Network for Good will partner with a national bank to enable the bank’s customers to make donations from their online bill-pay account.
  4. Google will bring its mission to “organize the world’s information” to the nonprofit sector. Working in conjunction with, Google will engineer the acquisition of a recognizable nonprofit data provider. The “buyout” target will be a nonprofit.
  5. A billionaire philanthropist with non-U.S. citizenship will establish a U.S.-based private foundation. Using the foundation to establish a global philanthropy brand, the donor will join Bill Gates and Bono on the celebrity-philanthropist list.
  6. Two large private foundations will merge. Citing the advantage of combining the expertise of their program staff and lowering operating expenses, the merger will create the second-largest private foundation in the country.
  7. A United Way-authored outcome-measurement template will be adopted by the sector as the standard format for nonprofit organizations to report on their effectiveness. The narrative-driven form will soon be available for download from the home pages of many nonprofits.
  8. A no-minimum national donor-advised-fund will be launched in partnership with a bank.
  9. After a major retailer’s cause-related-marketing promotion receives bad press for misleading advertising, a significant backlash against “embedded giving” occurs with young consumers.
  10. After Facebook’s Causes application is believed to have played a significant role in the increased voter turnout for the 2008 presidential election among 18- to 24-year-olds, charities recognize the potential of social-media tools and finally get serious about integrated online strategies.


  1. Jason says:

    This is list is awesome. I hope to see way more nonprofits start blogging. I especially liked the post about a nonprofit CEO starting a blog. I think that it is a great way to provide a message to a number of people. It allows people, possibly donors, to engage as much or as little in reading updates on an organization or topic as they would like.

  2. Maya Norton says:

    Sean, I see every item on this list as completely viable whether it is this year or in the next several.

    Did you have predictions written up from last year? I’d love to see them.

    (How long have you been blogging at Tactical Philanthropy, by the way, and was it your first foray into the world of blogging?)

    Merry Christmas if you are celebrating,


    The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy

  3. Maya, I think all of them will come to pass, but I may be expecting too much too soon. We’ll see.

    I launched Tactical Philanthropy in October 2006 and it was my first blog.

    This is my first year for predictions. I really enjoyed writing the list though, so I think you’ll be getting them next year too.