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Trend spotting in 2013

Meghan Murphy

Once the end-of-year "best of lists" start publishing in December, there's nothing I enjoy more than gathering them all up and digesting a whole year's highlights at once. Not only does this activity help ground me in the remarkable accomplishments of a year passed, but it streamlines my focus for what's important in the year to come. The wave of excitement that comes with a new year gets me all sorts of jazzed. It’s a time for big thinking, planning, and repositioning.

What better way to harness this energy than to tap into the minds and insights of some of our city’s most inspiring thought leaders? We sought out representatives from different subsectors and asked, “What emerging trends do you see in your space for the upcoming year?” Their thoughts are provoking, encouraging, and might just leave you even more excited for 2013.


Education Grows Online

In 2013, we expect to see increasing exploration of online course offerings, especially in higher education. As government funds for education continue to be tight and tuition rates continue to increase, institutions and individuals will have incentive to seek nontraditional forms of instruction.

Jim McCorkell, College Possible founder and CEO


Demographics Is Destiny in Politics and Policy

The most important long-term political and policy trend to gain momentum in 2012 and carry into 2013 will be Millennials moving from magazine topic to long-term political force—bringing their issues and concerns with them. I include in this group the Dreamers and new immigrants who may not be in the exact same age category. But these groups reached a critical mass in 2012 that significantly impacted the last election and whose influence will only increase electorally and politically in the next few years. For example:

  • How do Republicans/conservatives respond to being locked out of state government for the next two years? Does the party learn how to engage its younger, more socially liberal constituency on issues where they can be a big tent? Or do they fight the culture wars again?
  • Do Democrats/DFL realize that, when it comes to policy solutions, these Millennials are more likely to look for solutions outside of government than inside government? (And they are right to do so.) They are more entrepreneurial, and aren’t the big-government liberals from their parents’ generation, even though they are concerned about issues of equity and justice.
  • And for Minnesota, what do we do in the short-term to start attracting more in-migration from young/diverse/creative types we need, and how do we keep them here?

Sean Kershaw, Executive Director, Citizens League

Impact of Caregiving and Health as Growth Industries

There are certain undeniable facts that continue to drive trends for caregiving and health sectors. Some of those facts…

  • Fact: 10,000 people turn 65 every day in the US.  
  • Fact: Between 2004 and 2014 the 65+ population will have grown by 25.2 percent.  
  • Fact: Informal caregiving, provided by unpaid family and friends, is the backbone of long-term care in the U.S.

These facts drive the trend that more people will be providing and needing various levels of care—making caregiving a large growth industry. And within any growth industry, demand for supporting products and services increases and solutions to those opportunities are provided.

2013 will usher in continued development of in-home monitoring systems and devices. There are several promising technologies being implemented within homes to aid in caregiving.

Unfortunately, we are still in a period of standardizing, prototyping, and establishing foundational services. So while there will be good products and services here and there, caregiving support will still be hit and miss. Caregivers, however, will continue to adopt and use available support tools—from online services to in-home devices.

For health in general, albeit slow, the trend toward healthier living will continue. In the U.S., awareness and adoption of healthier lifestyles will continue to trend upward. The 10,000 people who turn 65 each day want to live longer, more active lives, and the younger generation also has more awareness toward wellness. This “healthier living” trend is still very slow—but it will continue in 2013.

Sona Mehring, Founder and CEO of CaringBridge, has been providing online services to care givers and patients since 1997

Cross-sector Collaborations: “Arts and”

My hope is that 2013 is the year of collaborations between artists and arts organizations with all the other sectors of the community. The outgoing director of the National Endowment for the Arts, Rocco Landesman, has set such a good example in this regard. During his relatively brief tenure, he forged important new partnerships between the NEA and other federal departments, including Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Defense, finding new ways to bring the power of the arts into people’s lives. Now more than ever, the world needs the creative thinking of artists and it’s our responsibility to step up to that challenge and find new ways of applying our artistic skills like problem solving, rapid learning, and constructive failure to our communities. I think this can and should be the year of “arts and”—arts and economic development, arts and healthcare, arts and education, arts and community building. Minnesota has an opportunity to be on the leading edge of this movement: let’s show the world the power of our creative, collaborative, cooperative spirit in 2013.

Laura Zabel is the executive director of the artist-led economic development organization Springboard for the Arts

The “Social Profit” Sector

More focused and meaningful engagement with donors using social media and technology tools that encourage and create two-way conversation. I’m seeing Executive Directors and their staffs finally doing more than dipping their toes into the social media/tech tsunami that has forever shifted how we communicate. I’m excited to see people taking the time to READ and connect with their Facebook supporters, e-news subscribers and even those rare few I find using Twitter or writing blog posts. The access walls are coming down from the IT staff and those previously worried about staff productivity allow communication to flow both in and out. While the shift is long overdue, it helps the social profit organizations who bravely use these communication tools to become more transparent and—inexpensivelyand quickly—build more engaged communities.

Lori L. Jacobwith is a speaker, coach, and trainer working with social profit organizations. Lori’s strategies and tools have helped organizations to collectively raise $200 million from individual donors.


Changes and Growth in Philanthropy

 According to the Minnesota Council on Foundations, the region's grantmakers predict they will have slightly more money to allocate in 2013, about 2 percent more than 2012. Here are some trends we can expect:

  • Even more interest in grant outcomes and program impact and an expectation for more sophistication around articulating and measuring impact from grant applicants.
  • Increased concern for the educational, social, and economic conditions of poor, marginalized, and vulnerable populations and more spending on improving these conditions, particularly around changing systems that impede progress.
  • Impatience with predominantly caucasian organizations that do not have a strong commitment to diversity and some evidence that they serve the whole community.
  • Increasing interest in social entrepreneurship and new revenue models.
  • More voices questioning duplication of programs and services and expressing the need for the nonprofit sector to work collaboratively.
  • More foundations and corporate giving programs working collaboratively to achieve greater efficiency and impact.

In addition, with new leadership at the St. Paul-based Bush Foundation it will be exciting to see what new projects are launched there.

Sarah Lutman is principal of Lutman & Associates which consults with and manages projects for philanthropic, cultural, and media organizations


Awkward Social Media Dances

I predict the awkward little dance of social media companies clumsily attempting to further monetize their platforms while keeping users from revolting will become much more prevalent.

Security technologist Bruce Schneier said it best: "Don't make the mistake of thinking you're Facebook's customer, you're not—you're the product. Its customers are the advertisers."

As with online journalism, social media enterprises need to pay their bills, and profits are always nice. It will be interesting to watch Twitter, Facebook, et al., try to 1) keep users happy and coming back, 2) while extracting more personal and consumer information from them, then 3) deliver that information to advertisers for marketing purposes, 4) keeping everyone happy in the process. Good luck, everybody!

Corey Anderson, Web Editor/Creative Director,

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