12 predictions for nonprofit and philanthropy for 2023

Written by Vu Le

Hi everyone! I hope the new year is treating you well. Since it is a brand new year, I thought I would use my Pisces power to predict what’s in store for our sector over the coming months. As everyone knows, we Pisces are attuned to the vibrations of the universe and are often blessed with clairvoyance. (We are also known to be kind, caring, sensitive, artistic, humble, and good-looking in unconventional ways.)

Here are the predictions, based on the alignments of the stars, planets, and a proprietary divination method that I like to call “surfing the internet and then guessing.” Please read with a critical eye and consult with your doctor, lawyer, or astrologer before acting on any of these predictions below:

1.Artificial Intelligence will bring hope and fear to many: AI will be on the forefront of many minds. It is exciting! It is terrifying! It is coming! Will it allow us to quickly take care of pointless and time-consuming tasks such as writing grant proposals? Will we see a spike in creepy, unsettling images on websites and donor solicitation letters, creepier and more unsettling than just the usual white savior surrounded by kids of color? Is this the beginning of a tech Renaissance…or possibly the beginning of a Matrix-style robotic revolution that we will probably need to work into our theory of change and then fundraise to resist later? Be on the lookout for more of these discussions.

2.Donor-Advised Funds will reach a boiling point: Battle lines have been drawn the past few years on DAFs, with smart, sensible people calling out the inequity and grossness of an unregulated wealth-and-power-hoarding mechanism, while status-quo-protecting proponents of DAF going “nuh-uh!” Most people, unfortunately, care as much about DAFs as they do about the mating habits of the banana slug. Until this year! As DAFs continue to grow like an unchecked mold on the leftover lasagna of equity, more people will get involved and take sides, pushing for policies at the organizational as well as state and federal level.

3.Nonprofit unions will form in greater number: The sector’s collective exhaustion of poverty wages, pathetic benefits, crappy chairs, and nonexistent retirement savings reaches a crescendo. More and more nonprofit staff begin to explore forming unions. Tensions increase as reasonable demands clash with nonprofit funding challenges. New union structures form, including models where staff and management across different organizations work in concert to push funders to significantly increase funding across the sector.  

4.Rise in four-day work weeks: With the growing number of unions and the strengthened voices of progressive new leaders calling for mitigations of Capitalism’s toxic productivity culture, comes changes in how we work. A major such change will be the four-day workweek being adopted by more organizations. With longer weekends and less stress and burnout, nonprofit leaders start reverse-aging and looking their age, and getting more energy and general zest for life. There will be an increase in injuries from skydiving, bungee-jumping, and Argentine tango.

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About the author

Vu Le

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the former Executive Director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and someone needs to document it. He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms.

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at NonprofitAF.com.