The Future Started Yesterday


MCF President Trista Harris at the 2013 Philanthropy Convening

Earlier this week, we showed you the TED talk “Abundance is Our Future” that we watched at the 2013 MCF Philanthropy Convening.

MCF President Trista Harris used this as a springboard into her closing talk, saying she sees small groups of people doing extraordinary things in the nonprofit sector all the time. But, she lamented, “The social sector uses old data, which makes it tough to see the future.” One example: U.S. census data, which is currently nine years old.

Her mission, she said, is to turn the boat around, so we can all see the future. “Many great ideas are right on the horizon, but we won’t see them if we don’t know what we’re looking for.”

Here are three positive trends Harris is seeing now.

Better, Cheaper, Faster Technology

“Technology is getting better, cheaper and faster on a very predictable schedule,” Harris said. “This allows us to do things today that we couldn’t think of doing 10 years ago.”

Diversity of Youth

Our youngest residents are much more diverse than our oldest, and we must use this diversity as an asset and not let it tear our state apart.

“We can’t forget that Minnesota is successful when we rely on each other. And ‘each other’ looks different than it used to,” said Harris.


“Nonprofiteers” are young people in our community who are exposed to nonprofit and philanthropy work early in their lives and see it as a career path.

She cited 2013’s We Day as a great example. On We Day, 18,000 students from 400 schools across Minnesota were entertained and engaged in the greater good. Attendees earned entry by committing to take action on at least one local and one global initiative during the next year.

“We may not see the next generation doing good,” said Harris. “Because it looks different than how we do good.”

21st Century Foundation Leadership

Harris shared a glimpse of where MCF is headed, saying the work will revolve around 21st century foundation leadership and getting people ready to learn together.

Areas that will be important include: diversity, equity and inclusion; the leadership pipeline; public policy; cross-sector partnerships; effective grantmaking practice and principles; and anticipating future trends.

Join the conversation: What are other important trends you see in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors?

One Response to The Future Started Yesterday

  1. Steve says:

    Sounds like an interesting talk.

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