365 days of uncertainty and opportunities for the third sector

The year 2020 was marked by a multiplicity of challenges, both economic and health-related, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and its tumultuous effects on societies across the globe. However, these have not been the only obstacles that nations have had to face and still confront to this day. The crisis resulting from the pandemic has exposed and brought to the forefront the inequalities that have marked society over the past decades. Thus, in a new context of social protest, civil society organizations have raised their voices to demand change and promote greater equity in all spheres of life. In this new scenario, certainly more critical than any other time in history, donations play a fundamental role in addressing the disparities that persist structurally in the daily life of society.

At this critical juncture, the future is uncertain, but the horizon also holds exceptional opportunities for civil society leaders, who will play a critical role in promoting a more equitable and resilient society; this new year presents a time of new opportunities for innovation and learning for both civil society organizations and philanthropists.

In 2021, a number of events will shape the future and the actions of CSOs. First, a greater commitment to equitable and inclusive strategies with the goal of addressing race and gender-based issues will continue to take hold within nonprofit institutions. This process has already been evident over the past year, as Candid identified a total of $4.2 billion in funding from funders and donors to address racial inequality.

Moreover, these contributors – as well as the organizations – present themselves as funders of useful tools for the application of new philanthropic resources to address new challenges. In this sense, the obstacles that emerge are not only greater in quantity, but also structural obstacles that cannot be circumvented. Consequently, the renewal and use of new tools to address the main issues will have to be a growing trend for CSOs to contribute to the formation of a more equitable society. “Impact investment tools”, in this sense, will be essential for the promotion of change. This investment blurs the lines between philanthropy and investment, thus rethinking how people give, grant and help.

At the current juncture, still marked by the effects of the pandemic, technology will be a tool that, if used successfully, will allow CSOs to access greater funding, a simple, direct and fast approach to philanthropists and greater exposure of these organizations in society.

The transformations observed in 2020 are here to stay. The year 2021, therefore, will be one of crucial importance for donors, philanthropists, and funding groups to engage in the development of civil society organizations, as this is an indispensable stepping-stone for CSOs to address the issues of inclusion and equity that the pandemic has exposed more than ever before.

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