CHAPTER 11The Future

Penelope Cagney

It seems fitting to conclude with some thoughts about the future for boards within the larger context of society and the civil sector. Let's consider what the implications for NGOs might be given the following scenarios:

  • The gap between the wealthy and the middle class continues to widen.
  • Ultrarich funders increasingly drive the philanthropic agenda.
  • Reaction to some of the negative effects of globalization forces some nations increasingly inward and international concerns grow increasingly less important to them. Others, enjoying an increase in prosperity, turn outward and claim a role on the global stage.
  • The pace of technological innovation continues to accelerate and revolutionize our ways of thinking and doing things.
  • In rethinking organizations and leadership, new models for governance are required.

Let's look at each of these in turn.


Economist Thomas Piketty warns, “… the inequality of returns on capital as a function of initial wealth, can lead to excessive and lasting concentration of capital … fortunes can grow and perpetuate themselves beyond all reasonable limits and beyond any possible rational justification in terms of social utility” (Piketty 2013, 443). A growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few will influence civil society. Already we are seeing very wealthy private funders tackling problems that government can't or won't, and as a result, they could set the philanthropic agenda for everyone ...

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