Top 11 Things to Read on Strategic Foresight and Philanthropy

In our rapidly changing and volatile world, funders need to build more capacity to better deal with the new challenges that come their way. This August, SIX is hosting a retreat with our Funders Node to explore how they can fund strategically with future foresight and adaptive capacity for emergent change. Below is a selection of readings that provide an introduction to foresight, its connection to philanthropy, and various methods and tools for use. 

ReportForesight and Philanthropy: Towards a New Alliance (Section 1), by Richard Slaughter, Serafino De Simone, and Gio Braidotti, published in 2005. One of the first works on the interaction between foresight and philanthropy, this document gives a thorough overview on what strategic foresight is and how and why philanthropy can and should be engaging.

ReportHorizon Scanning to Improve Social Impact, by Rockefeller Foundation and Forum for the Future. The report explores design principles, approaches, and key activities for horizon scanning.

Book [PDF]: Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide from Shell Scenarios, 2008. Explores the what, why, and how of scenarios.

ReportExploring the Future, by the International Civil Society Centre, published 2016. This report gives an overview of 10 emerging trends that will affect International Civil Society in the Future and discusses horizon scanning itself.

BlogHow to Identify the Next $100 Million Program, by Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation 2005-2017, Published September 17, 2014. Discusses Rockefeller’s ‘scan and search’ process.

ReportA Whole Greater than Its Parts: Exploring the Role of Emergence in Complex Social Change, by Fourth Quadrant Partners (4QP), published in April 2018. Uses seven case studies to draw insights on what emergence means, looks like in practices and promises to achieve.

BlogI Spent a Week in the Future, and There Weren’t any Foundations There, by Trista Harris, published 14 February 2016. She lays out a three-step process to help philanthropic leaders escape from the busyness of today to create the communities of tomorrow.

PlaybookA Playbook for Strategic Foresight and Innovation, published in 2013. This playbook targets the strategic manager, the person who is responsible for innovation, and offers a hands-on guide for modeling, designing, and leading a company’s next radical innovation.

BlogSecond Curve Philanthropy, by Marina Gorbis, published on 1 December 2014. Describes the Institute for the Future’s research on the future of philanthropy, which finds a large gap between the world of philanthropy and today’s world of social action.

E-BookIntroduction to Strategic Foresight from Future Motions, 2018. In short paragraphs, this book provides a precise overview of the main concepts to make the reader familiar with foresight thinking.

InterviewStrategy for an uncertain future: Scenarios Planning, by the Management Consultancy, provides a brief overview of scenarios planning and an interview with Christian Aid on their process, outcomes, and reasoning for doing it.

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