2016 feels like a year of promise. I am glad to leave behind a politically difficult 2015 and welcome back optimism, hope and peace. With continued enthusiasm over the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), it is encouraging to see UN Member Countries and private sector partners joining together to address the 17 monumental issues agreed to at the General Assembly last Fall. Ending 2015 with commitments to address climate change (finally!) was like icing on the SDG cake. With this intense scope of work driving socio-economic investments and environmental change, it is going to take a strong, collective effort to drive development forward into the next decade. The shifts we are seeing already will make 2016 much more about blending resources, skills and intent to prove that working together does make a difference. For example:
Large private sector players and smaller, more niche social entrepreneurs will join forces. Social entrepreneurship took a unique turn in 2015. No longer were "SocEnts" designing programs for purpose and small profit, but for purpose and large profit. The most well-known SocEnt, TOMS, does tens of millions of dollars in sales across each of their businesses annually. Established private sector players took notice of these trends and began investigating partnerships and engagements with smaller SocEnts while tapping into new markets and product categories. Increasingly we will see larger companies develop their own social entrepreneurial models and/or partner with up-and-coming SocEnts to target new communities of brand loyalists while (hopefully, and if done right) making lasting change along the way.
Investments in NGO activity will be entirely ROI-dependent. Companies will rely upon NGOs not just for philanthropic engagements, but for business plays. NGOs are adjusting their game accordingly. Companies want resources to be accounted for across every business unit, and with CSR teams moving back to product, sales or strategy, a clear ROI of any partnership must be defined. The Shared Value Initiative will be the central portal for this scope of work.
Foundation funding gets focus. As we moved through 2015, we saw donors like MacArthur, Ford and Rockefeller announce plans to double down on key areas of work, and eliminate donor funding for programs that weren't resonating. This will continue in 2016 and grow even more commonplace among all donors (foundations, governments, private sector).
Socio-economic and environmental goals merge. Gone are the days when development investments went to either forest conservation OR women's health. Moving into 2016, we will continue to see the interdependence of socio-econmic and environmental challenges as we investigate development priorities. Addressing an issue like water quality, for example, will require focusing on land rights, education, and even banking systems. Silos will be removed and all community investments will be multi-issue and sector neutral.
Overall we will see a blending of priorities from investment dollars in 2016, a movement away from NGOs being the only actors providing technical advice (watch the private sector begin to take on what NGOs have been doing for decades) and a more collaborative, location-based approach to improving development community by community.
What are you thinking about for 2016? Contact us to discuss.