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Foresight and Futures Initiative

Helping Philanthropy Innovate, Envision and Build a Better Future

 

Change is the new normal and philanthropy needs to catch up. How do we not only cope with change but proactively anticipate the challenges and opportunities, and shape our capabilities, strategies and interventions accordingly? How do we hone a long-view lens that is not beholden to the events and assumptions of today but is driven by the observed trends, patterns and imagination? How do we democratize who shapes, defines and drives the future?

ɫ’ two-year global Foresight & Futures Community of Practice for senior foundation leaders seeks to answer these and other questions in order to help philanthropy institutionalize best practices offered by the disciplines of foresight and futurism.

The initiative’s work will include convenings, research and thought leadership production. Participation of historically marginalized communities and nonprofit partners will be a central feature of this Community of Practice.

 

Rising to the Challenge Requires New Mindsets and Pathways for Impact

Change is already here and action cannot be delayed. Philanthropy’s traditional ways of approaching strategy and intervention often ineffectively address existential threats. It must develop sharper futures-thinking and longer-term strategic trajectories. Accomplishing this requires igniting organizational imagination through a “Foresight & Futures” mindset which offers a structured, systematic way of using data, analysis, scenario planning and other information to understand what is coming next and design adaptable solutions.

 

Our Vision

ɫ’s Community of Practice will engage funders, philanthropic and community leaders, as well as other partners in the ecosystem in a diverse applied knowledge development program through a convening platform, global network of peers and experts. Ultimately, members of the Foresight & Futures Community of Practice will build capacity for themselves and the broader philanthropic sector to anticipate the challenges of tomorrow, hone organizational innovation, and create more robust, equitable and adaptive strategies.

 

Building Philanthropy’s Foresight Muscle Together

Together, Community of Practice members and partners will:

  • gain applied knowledge of the practices of foresight and futures.
  • engage in hands-on learning with experts from diverse geographies and sectors.
  • build internal foresight and futures capabilities.
  • incorporate scenario planning into strategic planning processes.
  • co-create and apply innovative foresight frameworks to decision-making, funding practices and organizational design.

As part of this work, we will tackle the following themes:

  • Risk taking – How do we manage the dynamic of uncertain future vs. the need to act?
  • Aligning capabilities for better foresight and impact – What talent and skills do we need to effectively incorporate foresight & futures into our work?
  • Community-driven futures – How do we best center the voices and wisdom of communities in shaping the future, avoid exploitative scenario planning, and shed the colonial mindset for the future?
  • Turning on organizational imagination – How do we turn the question of “If we can’t imagine a better future, how can we build it” into a call to action?
  • Anticipating the future before it strikes – What models, frameworks, tools and solutions can we look to as we incorporate elements of foresight and futures into our work?

 

Members

  • Bikubenfonden (Denmark)
  • The California Wellness Foundation (US)
  • Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy)
  • East Africa Philanthropy Network (Kenya)
  • Ford Foundation (US)
  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (US)
  • Joseph Rowntree Foundation (UK)
  • Kresge Foundation (US)
  • Laudes Foundation (The Netherlands)
  • Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (US)
  • Officine Grandi Riparazioni di Torino (Italy)
  • Porticus (The Netherlands)
  • Realdania (Denmark)
  • Rivian Foundation (US)
  • The Robert Bosch Foundation (Germany)
  • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (US)
  • Surdna Foundation (US)

 

Strategic Thought Partnerships

In addition to the community of practice members, the initiative will recruit a cohort of strategic thought and research partners. These partners will enrich the program with knowledge in the fields of data, technology/artificial intelligence, inclusive storytelling, and racial and social justice. ɫ continues to forge these key strategic partnerships, which currently include:

  • Danish Social Innovation Academy (Denmark)
  • Data & Society (US)
  • Forum for the Future (UK)
  • Hispanics in Philanthropy (US)
  • Impact Europe (EU)
  • Institute for Technology & Society Rio (Brazil)
  • Long View Futures Foundation (Kenya)
  • Systemic Justice (the Netherlands)

 

If you would like to learn more, please email [email protected]