I always find major trend reports from large organizations fascinating even when the content is not. The 2008 YMCA Trends report is a solid pieces of work that points to important socio economic trends that can and will impact Y operations over the next few years. It is highly commendable that the Y looks at these major trends and recognizes their potential impact on their delivery of service. I have pasted the introductory pages below the fold. Although not new information it is great to see an organization as stout as the YMCA looking beyond their immediate operations at strategic changes in the socio-economic world.
Here are the top emerging trends for 2008 and how we’re seeing them manifest
1. Financial insecurity. High levels of government debt, combined with fastgrowing
Social Security and Medicare expenditures; stock market fluctuations;
the fall of the dollar against most major currencies and against gold; the
real estate bubble bursting; job insecurity; high debt levels; college graduates
with tremendous student-loan debt; and the rising wealth gap between the
highest- and lowest-income households all mean that except for the wealthiest,
very few feel as though they aren’t at financial risk.
2. Changes in philanthropy, especially at the macro level. Social entrepreneurship,
using business models to accomplish social goals, is still new and so has
relatively few long-term success stories; yet, the idea is becoming mainstream.
Many wealthy individuals or organizations are looking at ways to solve societal
problems—particularly ones with a strong economic basis—through the
marketplace. Microloans, small loans for people to start their own businesses
or become self-employed, are now widespread in the developing world. In
the United States, many philanthropists, such as those behind the Google
Foundation, are looking for ways to protect the environment by investing in
sustainable and renewable energy sources (for example, wind farms, growing
fuel from algae, and other such concepts). While most YMCA individual and
foundation gifts are still likely to come from traditional philanthropy models,
the concept of investing in philanthropy in a very direct and provable way is
spreading through even traditional philanthropy.
3. Emphasis on outcomes, impact, and differentiation. As business concepts
become more widespread (as noted above), there are more and more organizations competing for more dollars. As always, organizations that show they can
make the most difference for the dollar are always going to make a better case
than those that can’t, and in a time of rising need and more not-for-profits than
ever before, this is even more the case. One new twist is that not-for-profits
now have to compete with for-profit organizations that might be able to do
the same thing. For example, if a Y and a for-profit gym can do equally well at
reducing the incidence of diabetes in a community, the gym might be as likely
to get not only government grants and contracts, but even philanthropic dollars.
Ys and other not-for-profits have to show that their not-for-profit status
makes a difference.
4. Scrutiny. Scandal is everywhere, and powerful government and not-for-profit
leaders are being brought down regularly over failings in their personal lives
or in how they manage public or contributed money. As more scandals emerge,
the media and public are increasingly likely to assume that there’s more scandal
lurking in similar organizations.
5. Diversity. It’s not just a moral imperative to create organizations and communities
where all can flourish, contribute, and be rewarded for their efforts;
it’s a matter of business survival. The term “diversity” still suffers from being
associated primarily with race and with gender and being considered a synonym
for preferential hiring. But it also covers concepts such as generational
differences, sexual orientation, and even different ways of approaching or solving
problems. In many organizations, generational differences can cause as
much or more complication as can racial differences. How respect is earned
and shown across generations, for example, can cause conflict. Members of the
World War II generation and baby boomers are most likely to consider tenure
to be the vital criteria for leadership roles, while Generation X and Generation
Y are more focused on change and more likely to consider adaptability and
new approaches to be the vital criteria. Of course, this is nothing new—each
generation sees the value of change over experience when they’re young and
don’t have experience themselves. But in a time of rapid change and one in
which technology, considered the domain of the young, is adominant part of
daily and work life, the stakes are high.
Top emerged trends for 2008
These are the trends that by now are simply facts of life in the United States, but
still need to be considered when doing trends analysis.
1. Pressure on families. Families are pressed for time, money, and togetherness.
This is particularly true as families themselves are changing, and the United
States has more families with grandparents raising grandchildren, families
with a member in prison, same-sex couples raising children, and so on. These
YMCA TRENDS REPORT 2008
Top five trends for 2008
families are multiplying in numbers faster than communities can necessarily
adapt to meet their needs.
2. An aging society. This has tremendous implications for public health, the
workplace, communities, and the economy. As adults live longer and medical
care advances, the U.S. economy’s capacity to support older adults and continue
to provide health care as entitlement spending (e.g., Medicare/Medicaid)
is coming under question.
3. Physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Communities, organizations, and individuals
are trying to overcome the many obstacles to healthy eating and physical
activity; but this involves minimizing the effects of many societal trends,
such as lack of time, financial concerns, and many people living in unsafe communities
or ones that make outdoor physical activity difficult. This, too, is a
major factor in planning for public health and the economy, as well as for individual
quality of life.