By Ana Pinho
The link between philanthropy, environment and development is key for a sustainable future, and the connection was very well made at the EFC AGA and Conference in Milan. Passionate speakers have clearly made everyone in the room aware of the problems we are facing, and are hopefully willing to do their part. With innovation in their DNA, philanthropic organizations have a key role in the discussions for much needed long-term policy changes. Short-term solutions are not enough and, as Kimi Naidoo said, organizations should make sure they stay true to philanthropy and not engage in false “foolanthropy”.
Sessions covered a variety of issues, including sustainability and environment, but also the benefits of different types of philanthropy, and a focus on partnerships and innovative solutions. One particularly interesting idea presented is that borrowing is the new innovation. Organizations often waste precious time and resources “reinventing the wheel”, when a partnership with other organizations or just the adaptation of ideas to different contexts could be a lot more efficient. As a network, at WINGS we deeply value and encourage knowledge and information sharing as a way not only to save time and resources, but to keep organizations connected and to show them the value of being part of a network.
As WINGS Knowledge Management Coordinator, data is a vital part of my day-to-day work. Therefore having a session on what the international research community can contribute to sustainable foundation activities was a welcome and necessary bridge between academia and practitioners. WINGS board chair, Dr. Atallah Kuttab, has recently spoken at the Erasmus University, showing there is a clear need and willingness from both sides to learn from each other. Learning about different ways to engage researchers and academics in our work is certainly a most valuable takeaway from the conference.
WINGS also hosted a pre-conference session in Milan to disseminate and discuss next steps for the Global Philanthropy Data Charter project. The Data Charter is a framework to guide organizations in their data-related work, proposing a code of good practice to improve working relationships and encourage partnerships, as well as a framework for engaging other sectors around sharing and using philanthropy data for public benefit.
After learning about the process that led to the creation of the Data Charter and about the document itself, participants were asked to discuss how “data providers” might use the Charter, and what “marching orders” they would give to the Data Charter team concerning next steps. The results from the discussions were systematized, and at least three areas for future action were identified and will be included in future discussions around the Data Charter.
Ana Pinho is WINGS Knowledge Management Coordinator.