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CEO Message: On Predicting the Future

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Earlier this month I joined a panel at the CalNonprofits Annual Meeting.  With me were Elizabeth Laderman, an economist from the Federal Reserve and Tim Gage (pictured on panel, right), a California budget and policy expert.  Together we were asked to paint a picture of the economic, policy, and philanthropic forecast for nonprofits in California. 

Um, sure.

I am always happy to predict the future.  I do it all the time.  Really- just call me sometime and you will end up with at least one or two juicy predictions.  In fact, I’ll give you one right now: 

The media frenzy surrounding the presidential election will continue to grow, ultimately morphing into a 24-7 cycle of coverage that it is nearly impossible to avoid.  Oh – and one way or another, we will elect a new president on November 8, 2016.

You can take that one to the bank.

Here’s another: 

The weight will not stay off.

OK, OK, that last one might be a bit personal.  But like any good prediction, it’s based on past experience.  And like most predictions, it is informed by factors over which we have a measure of influence.

Seriously, though.  We all are seeking information and insights to inform our thinking and planning.  We want “informed risk-taking” based on sound data and prudent judgment.  And we want to set goals for ourselves that are both audacious and realistic, in light of the best information we have available. 

It was great to be in the room with so many thoughtful colleagues who are trying to make sense of a future we can never truly know in order to make sense of how we can do our best work now.

The good news is that all three of us on the panel reported that the news is, well, good.  The national economy is strong, the state budget is again robust, and philanthropic giving has largely recovered from the 2008/2009 recession. 

Our sector is increasingly exploring collaborations and “deeper-dive” investments to expand our reach and impact, and increasingly looking to our public sector, business, and community partners to work with us to address the complex challenges with which we are grappling.  This is good news for all of us.

Thank you, CalNonprofits, for a terrific conference and conversation.  I predict we will continue to collaborate with you and others who share our goals, because it works.

You can take that one to the bank too.