July 5th, 2023

The Future of Charity: 6 Foundations for the Future

Trying to predict the future is a mug’s game. But increasingly it’s a game we all have to play because the world is changing so fast and we need to have some sort of idea of what the future’s actually going to be like because we are going to have to live there, probably next week.” Douglas Adams

It’s been just over 2 months since we published the future of charity report, and, having just returned from a month away from the day-to-day on sabbatical, never has the above quote from Douglas Adams felt truer. 

The world is changing, fast, and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, until it smacks you in the face like an AI generated damp haddock.

In the first few months of 2023 I spent most of my time in the depths of research, chatting to people from across the charity sector about their hopes, fears and frustrations about the future of charity. These conversations weren’t about predicting the future, but asking what future we need and want, and therefore where we should start to invest now.

It quickly became clear that almost everyone was unified in their passion for the sector, and their frustration with the pace of change. We were all feeling the same collective exhaustion after the last few unsettled years, and struggling to see where disruption could come from when big bets are being curtailed by shoestring budgets and risk redtape. 

We all know change is needed, but the people we need to lead the charge and champion experiments feel like they’re trying to push water uphill. And the risk becomes that no change happens. The risk is that we carry on as we have been, whilst the sector slowly becomes less relevant, less effective and less impactful.

After a fortnight in early March spent covering the walls of Good Innovation HQ in PostIt notes in an attempt to make sense of over 50+ conversations and weeks of desk research, we landed on 6 foundations for the future. Foundations that we believe we need to invest in, in order to have a hope of building a future fit to solve the challenges that currently face people and the planet.

But we didn’t want the report to become just another opportunity to whinge about the status quo. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, we need to start living the future. That’s why we’ve included five offers of collaboration, to start to bring together interested parties to explore, learn, innovate and test new approaches. Collaborations around: AI, cause, intrapreneurship, social currency and governance.

So, if like me, you believe that the dominant paradigm of social good delivered by trusted charity, funded by philanthropy, grants and service contracts, articulating impact as a money in, money out equation, has served us well for the past century, but now needs to change, then please get in touch.

I’ve returned from sabbatical with a renewed passion for collaborations, and refreshed energy to start living the future. So please, grab a cup of tea, download the full report, and drop me a line if you’d like to have a chat about how we can collaborate on the future.


Download the report here.