Nonprofit 2043

I am beyond excited about my upcoming retirement in the year 2043. In fact, according to my current calculations, I now have 20 years, 5 months, 3 hours, and a few seconds on the clock before I can go fishing every day.

Since we are entering summer and family vacation time, I have been spending time reflecting on how much the nonprofit sector has evolved and now I am starting to wonder, what will it look like in 20 years?

Here are my top three predictions about the future of our sector.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used to solve issues facing our communities. There is a lot of buzz around AI, ChatGPT and the like. Today, it can spruce up your resume, provide research and information that blows search engines out of the water, and provide simulations that blend reality and fantasy. In the future, I believe it will be the organizational brainchild that absorbs and learns about the patterns of our organizations, retains every strategic plan goal, analyzes historical metric and datasets, and combines them with research and trends that present options for achieving vision statements. It gets me excited to think about solving some of the societal challenges we have faced in our careers with this technology.

2. Future nonprofit leaders are going to have to equip their leadership toolbox with new tools (like every previous generation of leaders). I see these future leaders managing how far they lean into technology, but also see technology as actual future team members. I see these leaders further utilizing implementation science with evidence-based programming and auto-generated lead datasets that predict future results of organizations and the clients we support. Finally, I hope we see these leaders benefiting from the challenging work we are currently doing in the diversity, equity, inclusion, and access space and helping our sector experience phases of liberation that we have never seen.

3. And finally, we will see greater disparities in income gaps resulting in more needed services from nonprofits. Unfortunately, this is a trend we have been on for many decades, and I see it continuing. The largest transfer of generational wealth is taking place now and another transfer will take place in this twenty-year period coupled with tax policies that benefit the wealthy, continued wage differences, and compound investments further widening this gap. While all this seems bleak, there is always an opportunity for nonprofits to disrupt this historical pattern. It will require us to think about new ways of approaching old issues, greater collaboration with partners, and more accountability in the systems and communities we are a part of.

I get excited to think about what the future of the nonprofit sector will look like in 20 years even if my predictions are wrong. Being mostly an optimist, I see every day as a path to building a future that is just for all. It is pretty cool to think that we are collectively building it together now and perhaps a bit overwhelming to realize the responsibility that comes with it as well.

Oh, and each of you are invited to my retirement party. I promise there will be cake - made by robots.

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