One of Next Stage’s annual traditions is this blog post. We think about what’s ahead for social innovators everywhere. This year, we’re breaking from our usual ‘trend’ language – because we don’t believe that anything on this list is temporary – and instead we are forecasting. In our 2024 Social Good Forecast, we delve into how emerging trends like AI integration in content creation, the expanding role of Medicaid in the nonprofit sector, and the rising significance of trust-based philanthropy are redefining the landscape of social innovation and community collaboration.

Here’s what we are predicting for next year – and beyond:

AI for All

2024 is the year when artificial intelligence naysayers will start seeing the benefits of this tool and integrating it into their workflow. For content creators, the emergence of ChatGPT and similar AI-powered writing “assistants” has felt a little shaky. Are we being replaced? If we tap into this, are we contributing to our craft’s doomsday? The answer is no. There’s no replacement (yet) for lived experience, relational nuance or your emotional connection to your stakeholders/audience. In 2024, expect more late-tech-adopters to lean into AI as a collaborator for brainstorming, refining thoughts and combating writer’s block.

Medicaid Expansion Will Impact Nonprofits

Medicaid officially expanded in NC on December 1. The impact on individuals and families has been well documented – but what hasn’t been mentioned is the slew of impacts this could have on nonprofits. It is likely to mean more funding and new referral pipelines as more community-based organizations have the opportunity to participate in service delivery. Stay tuned for more specifics on the ways this will inevitably affect nonprofits across our state!

Trust-Based Philanthropy Will Pick Up Steam

The concept of trust-based philanthropy is already picking up steam among philanthropy and nonprofits. This year, we expect it to become a hotter topic among companies – and for good reason. Trust-based philanthropy is all about creating more equity in grant-making processes. This most often shows up as multi-year, unrestricted funding, streamlined application processes and more transparent, bi-directional feedback. Our team is dipping our toes in these waters through our UnFundable Grant – we can’t wait to share what we’ve learned.

Collaboration Will Be Even More Critical

The biggest challenges facing our communities are layered and multi-faceted, with positive outcomes in any one focus area dependent on supports in other, seemingly unrelated areas. How can a child achieve academically when affordable housing for that child’s family is out of reach? How do we build workforce pipelines that realize economic mobility when transportation options are limited? We have arrived at a clearing in the woods, where leaders in overlapping sectors are realizing there is no successful path forward without collaboration. We wrote earlier this year about the Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience – an initiative that lays out how federal funds will be invested to advance positive outcomes in these areas of intersection. We see great potential in it to help take on these social challenges head-on – but only if we do it together.

Businesses Will Look to Fund Community-Based Organizations

Companies are increasingly looking to fund community-based organizations (CBOs) as a way to fuel local impact. It’s a way to support hyper-local impact through organizations most proximate and trusted by communities – but the challenges for companies can be equally steep. For companies used to funding highly structured, large nonprofits with strong processes, working with CBOs can require more patience and support. Watch for more conversation on how to do this effectively.

Cultivating Community-Level Engagement Through Trust

The collaboration mentioned above will only happen if we use a methodology of trust. It is essential to displaying care and responsibility for one another as well as addressing pertinent issues around affordable housing, education, healthcare, navigating systems, workforce development and more. Charlotte and cities across the country are seeking ways to do this kind of engagement more effectively while assessing areas for growth, improvement and opportunities.

Polarizing Politicization

It’s an election year, and you know what that means. And I don’t just mean obnoxious candidate commercials that make us all want to throw our TVs out a window. No, these days an election year brings with it increased vitriol and baseless hatred at a time when we need to be coming together for the greater good. Politicized messaging can create rifts and disrupt forward progress in communities at a time when they are addressing the long-term impacts of a global pandemic. Keep that in mind as you engage the people you serve, your colleagues and others. What may just seem like empty rhetoric and hot air to some can feel like the reopening of old wounds that rarely ever fully heal.

DEI Will Remain Under Attack

Speaking of polarization – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) will remain under attack and will continue to have opposition in 2024. And that is unfortunate. After the death of George Floyd, DEI evolved and structural changes were prioritized. And yet, we believe there are individuals, companies, and institutions that will continue to hold the line and create space for DEI, belonging, and respect, evaluating processes and examining the root of systemic disempowerment – and calling that out. In 2023, we wrote a blog entitled “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” – in 2024, who’s willing to go the distance?

Intentionality Will Replace ‘Disruption’ in Change Management

An intentional focus on change management and ‘just-in-case’ planning will be top of mind. Many companies have recovered from the emergency state of the pandemic and have pocketed a lot of wisdom from their experiences. Putting key operational plans in place for future disruptions will give leaders and their teams peace of mind. There are more things to plan for than you’d think! Succession planning, financial planning and planning for major technological shifts in how we work will be a valuable resource in your back pocket when the time comes. 2024 feels like a good year to get that done!

Organizations Will Build Their ‘People Resiliency’

Gone are the days when employees’ tenure could be reliably mapped out. The job market continues to shift and employees (and employers) are not afraid of seizing new opportunities and facilitating personal and professional development. Companies will be building strong HR teams to help organizations and companies avoid major disruption to company success and workflow amidst employee turnover.


And finally, your annual reminder that Community Voice is not a trend. We expect community voices to rise in prominence throughout 2024 – and we can’t wait to see what arises!

We’d love to know – what would you add this list?