“Turkey is usually described as a bridge between different cultures and people, like WINGS, which has diverse members all around the world. This resemblance between Turkey and WINGS contributed to the Forum in a way that the many participants interactively participated to the sessions by acknowledging the importance of voicing and sharing diverse ideas at such a venue, which involve many ideas and perspectives.”
This coming February, key players from around the world will convene at WINGSForum 2017: Critical Philanthropy. WINGS recently interviewed board member Başak Ersen, Secretary General of Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV), on his past experience as part of the Host Committee for WINGSForum 2014 and what he is most looking forward to at WINGSForum 2017.
How do you think WINGSForum contributes to our field?
WINGSForum is important for the field of philanthropy because it brings the most prominent philanthropy organizations and individuals around the world once in three years. Considering the importance of cooperation, collaboration and sharing ideas between philanthropic institutions and individuals for the development of philanthropy, WINGSForum particularly contributes to the area of philanthropy by bringing philanthropy organizations with diverse interests and funding strategies and helping them to create new ideas, react to the global trends and challenges for philanthropy and to create structural change as well as celebrating best practices from all around the world.
What were the most important issues addressed at WINGSForum 2014 in Turkey?
The most important issues addressed at WINGSForum 2014 were the emphasis on diverse giving models, such as venture philanthropy or crowdfunding, in order to support the development of civil society; getting data on foundations and sharing them transparently in order to analyze the impact and development of the third sector; the increased importance of the youth in the shaping of social development and civil activism and the importance of creating opportunities out of crises.
What issues are you most looking forward to addressing at WINGSForum 2017?
As a member of a philanthropy support organization in Turkey, the ways that support organizations influence policy is one of the issues that I look forward to. Despite the fact that civil activism has been increasing around the world, shrinking space for civil society has recently been a global phenomenon. In some countries, authoritarian governments seek to limit the development and power of civil society by leaving them no space to influence policy. Thus, discovering ways to influence policies in a highly restricted environment for the civil society will be instrumental in order to understand the role and impact of supporting philanthropy.
The other issue I look forward at WINGSForum 2017 is the SDGs. Sustainable Development Goals are crucial in order to ensure development around the world. In order to able to follow and implement the SDGs, the government, civil society and individual people should cooperate. I look forward to learning about the stance of the other WINGS members and Forum participants towards the SDGs and the role of philanthropy for sustainable development. Last but not least, migration and displacement of people will be one of the priority areas of philanthropy and civil society globally for the coming decades. Thus, I believe, such a cross cutting issue would be interesting for the whole participants.
How did having WINGSForum 2014 in Turkey uniquely contribute to the conference?
Turkey has a long history of traditional philanthropy that goes back over 1,000 years. Thus, debating the challenges and trends of global philanthropy and arguing the ways to develop the philanthropic sector around the world at WINGForum 2014 in Turkey were befitting. Turkey is usually described as a bridge between different cultures and people, like WINGS, which has diverse members all around the world. This resemblance between Turkey and WINGS contributed to the Forum in a way that the many participants interactively participated to the sessions by acknowledging the importance of voicing and sharing diverse ideas at such a venue, which involve many ideas and perspectives.
What do you hope people take away from the conference?
I hope people realize the importance of solidarity and sharing ideas for the development of philanthropy sector around the world, so they meet new people, share ideas and find ways to work together at the end of the WINGSForum. I hope new collaborations between different organizations will be burgeoned in order to create a wider social impact for the development of philanthropy and civil society. Networking, meeting new people in sector around the world, looking at the opportunities and challenges of the sector and finding the ways that other organizations handle those are the most important gains that participants can take from the WINGS Forum.
Learn more about WINGSForum on our website.