With around 200 members, La Fonda largely brings together people engaged in –or in promoting– the voluntary sector and the social and associative economy. With a focus resolutely on the future and the pooling of knowledge, the La Fonda association began a foresight exercise in 2010 entitled “Building 2020 Together”. The aim of the study was to explore the future of the voluntary sector in France, so that those in the sector could spot the major upcoming issues and take account of them in their strategies. In this article, Hélène Bonvalot, who coordinated the exercise up until July 2014, explains what it consisted in and presents the lessons learned.
After outlining the general features of the sector and the method employed in this foresight exercise, she shows how voluntary organizations are currently at a parting of the ways in a society affected by three major trends (towards fragmentation of institutional patterns, fluidity of social relations, and empathy) and in a world in crisis and transition. This new context offers significant opportunities for the voluntary world, since it can create opportunities for new partnership models through participation in the implementation of new regulations, promoting the links between the global and the local, or finding a place in emergent socio-economic logics (the circular or the collaborative economy) etc. It is up to the actors in the sector to grasp these opportunities and so play a part, in this (long) transitional phase, in building a future which is chosen rather than merely endured.