The Power of Networks—Building connected global philanthropy

Global networks like ours cultivate the spirit of innovation through connected and informed leadership. This is why WINGSForum is so important, and why it’s been a success for the last 15 years. Now you can join us on the Road to Istanbul: A journey through networked philanthropy—our new web series that explores some of what we’ll cover in Istanbul in March. WINGSForum 2014: The Power of Networks is about innovation, leadership and community. Are you in? 


By Chris de la Torre

Innovation. The word is everywhere. In fact, the more the word is used the further away it seems in terms of practical meaning. But innovation in philanthropy is all around us. We know this because we witness it every day in the work of our members who collectively represent more than 50 countries in every region of the world. We also know that “innovation” is best underscored by challenge, which probably accounts for the spike in its usage; the more pressing the challenge, the greater the need for innovation.

In the book Global Action Networks: Creating Our Future Together, author Steve Waddell begins with a stark reminder of how “the old ways of doing things are not up to the global challenges we are facing.” We hear this a lot, especially in the context of wicked problems—those seemingly insurmountable issues that have a way of keeping the world on its toes.

Solutions today require collaboration and diversity more than ever—two things no leader can do without—and the need for effective leadership is at an all-time high. This means great things for WINGS because a big part of our mission is to promote and provide leadership on the development of philanthropy and social investment around the world.

As Waddell’s work suggests, leadership in many ways is synonymous with innovation. Sometimes making the right choice is about taking a chance, and new and more effective methods of conquering the same old problems have a way of coming out ahead of the pack. But being a leader doesn’t mean you’re always right in the end—it’s also about making the mistakes no one else wants to make so you can help others avoid them. It’s about blazing a path—clearing new ground and taking up new approaches to solve persistent problems.

We liked Waddell’s message so much, we asked him to speak at WINGSForum 2014, and we’re excited to share more about his work and philosophy over the coming weeks.


Global networks like ours put leaders in touch at regular intervals so they can cultivate a spirit of innovation. Held every four years, WINGSForum focuses on identifying new innovations in the sector and was designed as a peer learning experience where philanthropy leaders can share practical lessons and inspiration from their work. This is a tried-and-true philosophy we share with our members. This is why WINGSForum is so important, and why it’s been a success for the last 15 years.

Jane Wales, CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) and the World Affairs Council, is active with WINGSForum 2014 planning and brings invaluable experience to the team. The GPF informs and enhances the strategic work of donors and social investors who are committed to international causes—a shining example of how WINGS members support the communities they serve.

The Annual GPF Conference will happen at the end of April in the United States, just weeks after we wrap up WINGSForum in Turkey, and we’re anxious to see how ideas on leadership and innovation might transfer and translate between events.

Leadership and innovation are hot topics right now. How could they not be? Paula Fabiani, executive director of IDIS, pointed out in this recap of last year’s GPF Conference that digital innovations allow for more accurate interventions. She suggests that global networks like ours help local actors innovate more effectively in their communities by cultivating a diverse and well-balanced view of life on Earth:

From this experience I suggest always checking if there is something in other countries that can help you develop your own work. In this connected world, philanthropy can be global and local at the same time, can’t it?

We say yes, it can. And we can’t wait to see what local actors from all parts of the world will bring to Istanbul in March. WINGSForum 2014: The Power of Networks is about innovation, leadership and community. Are you in?

Chris de la Torre is Managing Editor for WINGS. Follow him on Twitter @urbanmolecule.

About the series: Road to Istanbul—A journey through networked philanthropy charts the course of global philanthropy over the weeks leading up to WINGSForum 2014: The Power of Networks. Co-hosted by Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV), diverse actors from the world of philanthropy will converge on Istanbul from 27-29 March to discuss emerging trends and other issues important to the sector. Follow on Twitter with #WFnetworks. Register for the event here.

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