Envisioning Our Future

What actions can we take now -- individually and collectively -- to significantly increase the impact of the nonprofit community in the future?

The enormous demands of today make it easy for nonprofit and foundation leaders to focus on the immediate needs of the communities we serve. However, ambitious goals and a dynamic environment require that we think long-term.

The Envisioning Our Future initiative aimed to engage the sector in an open and provocative conversation that will help us all shape a more desirable 2020 for our organizations and the communities we serve. This initiative focused on strengthening the nonprofit community at large, rather than on individual causes or missions.

The goals of Envisioning Our Future included:   

  • Identifying and developing high-impact ideas and insights that have the potential to transform the charitable community in the next 10 years.
  • Generating and sharing publicly those insights and strategies so that organizations can contribute to and draw on collective wisdom to inform their own decision-making.
  • Building networks and strengthening relationships by breaking down existing barriers and facilitating new connections around common goals.

This initiative was fueled by several in-person and online convenings: the StrategyLab in Colorado in July of 2008; the FutureLab, which ran from September through December of 2009; and FutureLab sessions at the 2009 IS Annual Conference. View the timeline of these events in the supporting documents.

The StrategyLab brought together 76 diverse leaders from nonprofits, foundations, and other stakeholders. Their insights and ideas culminated in nine important conversations that can be explored further in the supporting documents.

The FutureLab Online Challenge conversation took the conversations from StrategyLab and brought them online so that the rest of the community could participate. The Futurelab discussions were based on topics and background information drawn from the StrategyLab discussions.

FutureLab sessions at the 2009 Annual Conference were another opportunity to discuss these issues in person, and to prioritize and further develop the most transformative ideas.


"When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills."

- Chinese Proverb


Join IS Today