With the year winding down, the Next Stage team is looking at the road ahead. What will change about social impact efforts in 2024? What will CSR leaders prioritize? How will nonprofits evolve to meet new challenges and change? In this ‘2024 Social Good Forecast for Business, 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.

Overall, sustainability and environmental concerns will be top of mind for companies everywhere. Just as important is the ‘Social’ part of corporate social responsibility efforts – and the we expect to see the the predictions below remain well into the future: 

Authenticity is the Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster recently declared ‘authentic’ to be the word of year. While this is a reaction to a wide set of cultural phenomena, it aligns with what younger generation consumers and employees have been asking of companies for years. Savvy company and CSR leaders will focus on aligned impact efforts rooted in community and employee voice. Companies who can create environments where social good feels authentic will reap the benefits of employee retention, recruitment and strong culture. In the same vein – expect greater sensitivity to impact-based marketing campaigns. Watch for the trap of ‘greenwashing’ or ‘rainbow capitalism’ campaigns without meaningful action behind them. 


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 – stay tuned for more of what we’re learning!


Mental Health Will Matter More Than Ever

If we learned anything during the pandemic, it was that mental health is critical for a healthy organization and maximum impact. We expect organizations everywhere to prioritize mental health, both inside and outside their companies walls. This will show up as companies developing strong internal campaigns to support their people, as well as greater funding to ensure that communities stay mentally strong and healthy. 


Funders Will Prioritize Collaboration 

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. This drive for collaboration will be fueled in part by the private sector – and we see great potential companies who are willing to help tackle these challenges head-on.


Businesses Will Look to Fund More 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 companies dipping their toes into hyper-local waters – and more conversation on how to do this effectively. 


Employees Will Go To Bat for DEI

After the death of George Floyd, DEI evolved and structural changes were prioritized at many companies – but many of those same positions have been cut over the past twelve months. And while it is certainly an uphill battle, this article recognizes the increase in employee activism for DEI initiatives. Some DEI professionals are finding that, “Internal activism is on the rise, with four in 10 of all employees and half of millennials reporting that they had spoken out about controversial issues at work.” Expect to see this trend continue with younger generation employees ‘leading from their seats.’ 

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