Beeston’s Blog: Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy looks at the impact philanthropy can have as a source for good during 2023

One of the monthly highlights in the GRIN office is the regular blogs provided by Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy and Sarah Taragon and Stephen Woollett of Clarity CIC, in which they discuss and challenge current issues relevant to the charitable sector. 

Today’s blog is by Emma, which considers the impact philanthropy can have as a source for good during 2023.

*Emma’s first book ‘Advising Philanthropists: Principles and Practices‘, co-written with Beth Breeze, is out in February. More details about the book and how to order is available on the Directory of Social Change website

“Philanthropy in 2023: Predictions” by Emma Beeston 

“So here we are already one month in to 2023, which in the UK at least is getting off to a fairly bleak start with the cost of living crisis and strikes, let alone the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis. With philanthropy as a potential force for good, it is timely to think about its contribution in the year ahead. I have highlighted what has struck me from the articles and podcasts I look out for at this time each year, which bravely make predictions for philanthropy in 2023. I have also provided the links and encourage you to explore these further.

Philanthropism’s Podcast: Episode 27: 2023 Predictions for Philanthropy & Civil Society

“Rhodri Davies covers a lot of ground: the disappointing response to the cost of living crisis, the possibility of charity workers going on strike, growth in collaboration, wealth inequality and paying taxes. One observation that resonated with me was people calling themselves philanthropists who do not fit the classic philanthropist stereotype (a tech billionaire, usually white, male and American). Rhodri shares the example of You Tube prankster Mr Beast which reminded me of other recent examples of philanthropists who break the mould such as Stormzy and Marcus Rashford. I welcome this expansion of who counts as a philanthropist – though there is still room for more women please.

Philanthropy and digital civil society blueprint

“Lucy Bernholz’s forecast leans more to the digital. She makes a compelling case for philanthropy and non-profits to up their game on how they understand and use data and digital systems: “Collecting, storing, analysing, protecting, using, and destroying data is to today’s civil society organizations what collecting and using donated funds and time have always been— core to achieving a mission.” It is commendable that she scores how well she did on her 2022 predictions – actually pretty impressive. This year’s predictions include the end of Twitter, and Effective Altruism returning to a niche pursuit, as well as a growth in co-operative ownership platforms.  There is also a great list of buzzwords to look out for – regenerative philanthropy is already well used. Other terms I have spotted lately include ‘ethical philanthropy’ and ‘solidarity philanthropy’.

“Johnson Centre for Philanthropy: 11 Trends in Philanthropy for 2023

“Some of the trends are not new but still of interest as they predict more collaboration, and increased pressure to spend more and quickly. This is a US-centric report and the backlash against ESG as ‘woke capitalism’ was new to me. I was aware of the problems with greenwashing and the difficulty with measurement, but not this political angle. (A reminder to keep venturing out of my bubble this year). The report raises the interesting question of when is something in philanthropy a fad and when is it a trend? They conclude it is too soon to tell for racial equity but the signs are encouraging. It is always important to identify action and not just words in philanthropy – something this report also reminds us of in the growing expectation to hold non-profits to account when their actions do not match their mission.

“And always worth a read is the 12 predictions from Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.

“They are refreshingly honest in describing their predictions as “surfing the internet and then guessing”. Non-profit unions, AI and more engagement with neurodiversity are all in here. I also like their prediction of a rise in alternatives to articles and podcasts. So watch out for their prediction of philanthropy stand-up comedy shows and shadow puppetry.

I agree with many of the predictions gathered here including increased collaboration, more trust-based and community-led philanthropy, and the importance of technology. To end, it seems only fair that I add some predictions of my own:

1. Increased attention on contribution and ethics rather than impact.

2. The interesting new ideas and models will come from Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

3. I think there will be a spiritual and moral impetus behind promoting generosity as we will increasingly need to share and better redistribute resources in response to rising opposition to inequality and an increased number of environmental refugees.

“Now is a good time for you to reflect on what lies ahead. Thinking about what shifts are coming will help you be better prepared to embrace (or resist) them.

“Wishing you all a peaceful 2023.


Image: Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy, which advises grant-makers, companies and families on creating and implementing giving strategies.