the Future will be Private

imgresOn the front cover of the Sunday NYTimes was an article about how Australia was going to close down a research center that is considered a baseline for tracking the changes in the world’s atmosphere.  They plan on laying off 350 people.  Scientists across the globe are angry and I am sure we have not heard the last of this.

I believe the future will be private.  What I mean by that is that in order for this research center to survive (and by everything I read it must) is people out of the private sector will have to pay to keep it open.  Philanthropists that have made data around global climate change one of the things that they want to support will be the ones that keep organizations like this going.  The organization will be set up differently.  There will be an executive director and someone will have to raise money or perhaps the money will be put into a trust that just generates enough income every year to keep the organization going.  There might be some other thoughts around this effort such as figuring out ways that the research center can generate capital through the selling of their data instead of just sharing it freely with other Governments.

Years ago people became philanthropic towards the end of their career.  They made enough money and wanted to take some of their cash and make a difference in the world.   Now many people have made money younger, there are third generations of families who are now responsible for giving away their families foundation dollars and both of these groups look at things differently then the generation before.

Governments just do not have the deep pockets we need to remake our roads, change transportation, keep the parks open, educate our children.  There will be more private public partnerships in the future because there will have to be.  People who are giving money to museums will want to see them run a lot more efficient with possible ways of earning revenue too from renting out the space to conducting special trips to ecommerce platforms.  They won’t be ok with someone running the place who is not thoughtful about how money is spent.  The non-profit way of thinking is we can just raise more money from donors and spend freely in ways that profit-run companies do not.  It is a mentality that has been allowed to operate for decades.  I for one do not think it is ok.

The Ford Foundation is thinking ahead.  They are being focused on their giving, becoming more efficient to make a bigger impact.  When they make a grant to an organization someone from the Ford Foundation is going to make sure the money is well spent.  That makes sense.  That is what investors do in the profit world so why not in the non-profit world.  Most foundations spend more time thinking about giving the money away and once they give it to an organization sometimes they never hear from them again.  It makes zero sense.

Governments are going to start coming to the public aka large donors, to fund streets, bridges, schools, tunnels, parks and more.  When Australia is pulling the plug on something that the whole world benefits from because of budget cuts or political turmoil then the future will have to become private.  It is just a matter of time.