Trends and Priorities in the Foundation Sector in the 21st Century

Foundations are among the largest and most influential civil society actors in today’s world, with the power to significantly influence the global development agenda. To shine a spotlight on both the growing influence and the impressive accomplishments of the foundations sector, Dasra’s whitepaper ‘Funding in the 21st Century - Trends and Priorities in the Foundation Sector’ identifies the top trends in foundation giving and outlines the top five priority areas for action.

Why is this important?

Defining the priorities of the foundation sector gives us a clearer understanding of how these influential actors can work together more effectively and punch well above their weight to achieve the ambitious developmental targets the world has set itself. While recognizing that the foundation sector as a whole is at different stages of evolution in each of the five outlined priority areas, this whitepaper by Dasra aims to serve as a guide to understand and highlight ways foundations can move forward together.

What are the priority areas for action?

Dasra has identified the following top priority areas for foundations:
  • Capacity Building of Grantees: A trend in the sector towards bringing in business principles and prioritizing talent development has made it critical for foundations to work on capacity building of their grantees and invest in building sustainable institutions, not just programs.
  • Developing Innovative Funding Mechanisms: The introduction of different funding strategies and the rise of venture philanthropy has led to much innovation in the way foundations fund programs. 
  • Impact Assessment: A renewed focus on outcome oriented philanthropy has made it critical to understand evolving evaluation practices in the sector.
  • Working with the Government: The focus on scale and strategy makes it crucial for the foundation sector to work effectively with governments the world over.
  • Collaboration: It is becoming more and more important for foundations to collaborate and partner with each other, in order to stop reinventing the wheel.