Introducing WINGS Board – Başak Ersen

Introducing WINGS Board – Interview with T. Başak Ersen


1) Tell us a bit about your current work and background

I am the Secretary General of the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV) since 2011. TUSEV is a membership based private foundation. Currently, the organization has 114 foundations and associations as members.  As TUSEV we are working for a more enabling legal and fiscal environment for civil society in Turkey, we encourage strategic and effective philanthropy and giving, facilitate dialogue and cooperation between the public sector, private sector and civil society, encourage collaborations at the national and international level as well as creating resources and raising awareness through research on civil society and philanthropy.  Overall, TUSEV shares the different qualities of a member based organization or a national association as well as an infrastructure and philanthropy development/support organization.

I have been working with TUSEV since 2004. My expertise is on civil society law and I have worked on various areas such as capacity building in the non-profit sector, public sector-civil society partnership, and legal reform and lobbying for NGOs, tax legislation improvement, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship development. I also serve as an elected member of Council of Foundations of the General Directorate of Foundations which is the highest decision making body for foundations in the government.


2) How did you end up being a WINGS Board Member?

I met the former Executive Director of WINGS and some Board Members for the first time during the EFC annual conference of 2012. This introduction resulted in increasing collaboration between TUSEV and WINGS and gave me an opportunity to create stronger ties with the WINGS team and the Board. It also paved the way to the organization of WINGS Forum 2014 in Istanbul where TUSEV was the co-host. Following the successful Forum in Istanbul, I learned that Dr. Atallah Kuttab, WINGS Emeritus Chair, nominated me as a new board member. I felt very honoured and gladly accepted this role.


3) What have you enjoyed about the role?

It is a great honour to be a part of a Board alongside such distinguished individuals from different parts of the world who have such expertise and knowledge about philanthropy.  First of all, it is a sincere environment which enables all of us to learn from each other and work together for WINGS. Working with such a diverse group of committed practitioners creates an excellent opportunity to see the global picture of philanthropy as well as civil society. I would have to admit that we are a joyful and lively group interested in developing philanthropy!


4) What is an area of WINGS’ work that you are particularly passionate about?

I believe WINGS is growing strongly in a number of different areas. As an organization, its major focus is creating opportunities for philanthropy support organizations that we benefit a lot from in our daily lives. However, I am personally passionate about the working group on the “enabling environment for civil society” because it gives me an opportunity to use my areas of expertise and challenges me to think more creatively in response to all of the difficulties faced globally.


5) What is an inspiring quote that you would like to share?

The theme of WINGS Forum 2014 was “the power of networks”. Civil society in Turkey like in many different regions of the world is under serious threat. WINGS was and still is a very powerful network and has a special mandate to unite organizations globally. It is hard for an individual organization or a country to deal with all the challenges but as networks we are capable of solving the problems. Therefore my quote would be “united we stand”.

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