By Fiona Budd
A few months ago, as I was preparing to attend my first-ever WINGSForum, I did not know what to expect. The conference promised so much—networking opportunities, skills building, and resource sharing from organizations spanning the globe! Now as I look back, I feel that WINGSForum 2014 not only delivered on these expectations, but exceeded them. There was not one element that wasn’t applicable to my work, and I gained relevant, tangible learnings to apply to my organization.
There were so many conference highlights that I find it difficult to choose just one. Certainly, there was the opportunity to meet and interact with incredible and inspiring leaders in philanthropy from around the world. The agenda was jam-packed with pertinent themes presented by knowledgeable and committed speakers, and despite the scope and depth of the conference, I also enjoyed the more light-hearted opportunities to laugh and enjoy the moment. This was especially true of the Vodafone Foundation Turkey Gala Dinner, where guests were treated to a lovely musical performance by the Social Inclusion Band.
During my time in Istanbul, I was also able to expand my toolkit by attending a number of concurrent workshop sessions. Notably, I attended the ‘Demonstrating Impact to Engage the Next Generation of Philanthropists’, ‘Graduating Philanthropists: Perspectives on the Role of Higher Education in Cultivating a Culture of Giving’, ‘Scaling up African Philanthropy’, and sat on the panel for the ‘Growth in Cross Border Philanthropy’ session. All of these sessions gave me important learnings that I will be able to apply to my work moving forward.
In the plenary sessions, The Barry Gaberman Lecture, ‘The Role of Philanthropy in Difficult Times’, as presented by Dr. Avila Kilmurray, was thought-provoking, entertaining and utterly sincere. Additionally, the “Infrastructure in Focus” session—co-hosted by the team of ‘Blarry’ (Barry Knight and Larry McGill) and moderated by Shannon Lawder of the Mott Foundation—was a joy to experience and a great way for WINGS to launch their Infrastructure report. Finally, the theatrical ‘Associations on Trial’ session captivated the audience’s attention with a witty, engaging and entertaining presentation, complete with costumes and soundtrack!
A final highlight to include here was the ability to connect with and meet face-to-face with colleagues who are part of the Charities Aid Foundation’s offices from around the world. CAF is the oldest member organization of WINGS—as per one of the interactive quiz questions on day one—and it is rare to have an opportunity to connect with those whose work is so connected to my own.
In conclusion, I can think of no better way to sum up the WINGSForum and delegates and the power of this collective global gathering than with the following quote from our beloved Nelson Mandela: “A good head and a good heart are a formidable combination.”
Fiona Budd is Business Development Manager, Marketing, for CAF Southern Africa.