Building capacity for systemic transformation in Central and Eastern Europe

By Alina Porumb, President of the Association for the Practice of Transformation (APT)


The Association for the Practice of Transformation (APT) was established in May 2018 with the mission to support intentional, future orientated and systemic transformations of individuals, organizations, communities and societies by stimulating collaboration, research, learning, social innovation and strategic thinking. 

In a context of increasing complexity, uncertainty and threats to democracy, we support leaders of philanthropy infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe to build stronger connections, resilience and strategic insight, enabling learning and adaptation, increasing impact and contributing to stronger philanthropic and civil society movements. 

These are the leaders of existing or new regional, national and local philanthropy infrastructure organizations, including support organizations, donor networks and foundations, which take on a philanthropy support role and who are ready to invest in building knowledge and connections in a multi-country regional and international space and proactively seek to increase the relevance and reach of their efforts.

Since July 2018, APT is the new host organization for INSPIRE, an informal network of philanthropy leaders from Central and Eastern Europe who are interested in innovating, sharing knowledge and advancing the field of strategic philanthropy in their local, national and international environment. APT’s team builds on six years of experience with INSPIRE as a part of the Association for Community Relations, Romania. 

We see INSPIRE as a trusted partner and as an enabler of quality conversations, reflections and safe learning spaces which allow for peer-based exchanges and context sensitive transfer of knowledge. It acts as a facilitator and contributor to strategic thinking processes and theory building on strategic philanthropy and the role of philanthropy infrastructure in advancing systemic change.

In its six years of experience, INSPIRE has engaged 95 philanthropy practitioners from 14 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, with 55 of them graduating from a philanthropy advising educational program and over 50 stayed engaged and participated in at least 3 program activities. The program team organized directly 12 workshops, 2 regional conferences and 3 study visits and supported its partners in organizing a further 20 events while participating as speakers, experts and contributing to event design. The countries engaged in the network are: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine. The region of highest focus was Western Balkans, Romania and Ukraine. 

Besides the sharing of philanthropic advising practice, the topics of workshops and conferences included strategic grant making practices, knowledge management for philanthropy support organizations, setting up infrastructure for community foundations, and exploration of approaches in social change philanthropy, building ecosystems for philanthropy support. 

Practitioners engaged in INSPIRE are leaders and program and development directors of key philanthropic organizations in Central and Eastern Europe including: Association for Community Relations, Trag Foundation, Catalyst Balkans, Roots and Wings Hungary, Third Sector Foundation Turkey, Via Foundation Czech Republic, ISAR Ednannia Ukraine, Academy for the Development of Philanthropy Poland, Bulgarian Donors Forum, Polish Donors Forum, Polish Federation of Community Foundations, Romanian Federation of Community Foundations, Ukrainian Philanthropists Forum, as well as community foundations in Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Latvia, Romania and Serbia who might take a wider support role within their fields.

European and international partners: We partnered with and shared the methodologies of the UK based Institute for Philanthropy and UK Funding Network. We are an active participant in the process developed by DAFNE and WINGS to reflect on the key roles and frameworks for evaluation for philanthropy infrastructure organizations 4C, helping develop and test the framework and share knowledge both within Central and Eastern Europe region and internationally. Also our team took part in strategic thinking and reflection processes of European Community Foundation Initiative, Global Fund for Community Foundations and WINGS. 

Key results so far: 

  • Increased capacity of professionals active within a local, national or regional philanthropy support role to provide a strategic framework for the engagement of donors and their leadership in social change processes (mainly achieved through the philanthropy advising educational program and follow-up experience exchange). 
  • Increased capacity of organizations in the program to use a strategic approach to philanthropy and social change including the use of theory of change as a way of linking activities and outcomes, clarifying approaches and evaluation frameworks and setting up knowledge systems to support those.
  • Increased capacity of philanthropy support organizations to shape their field – in early stages of the program, the focus has been on philanthropic advising as a way for creating support relationships that enable higher impact, while in later stages, the focus has shifted towards the grant-making and program side, exploring how a higher impact could be supported through various approaches and strategic reflection on the changing roles of the philanthropy support organizations.
  • Increased links and cooperation at the regional and international level: INSPIRE has enabled the building of stronger connections between philanthropy practitioners in Central and Eastern Europe and with the broader European and international philanthropy context.


The key products of INSPIRE are: 

  • small scale learning spaces that allow for quality reflection, building of peer exchanges and trust, building and transfer of innovation within the philanthropic sphere; 
  • expertise and facilitation on strategy development of philanthropy supporters, with a focus on the role and position of philanthropy infrastructure while enabling a balanced discourse on the role and contribution of the field; 
  • documentation of knowledge or practices, expertise sharing and brokering connections and mutual support between countries and regions; between local, national, regional and global levels; between practitioners and academic research.


Contact information:

Alina Porumb, President of the Association for the Practice of Transformation

Director of the Initiative for Strategic Philanthropy and Intelligent Resources in Central and Eastern Europe Str. Cetinii no. 26, Brasov, Romania



CP Alina



Alina Porumb


Association for the Practice of Transformation




Association for the Practice of Transformation (APT) supports intentional, collaborative, future orientated and systemic transformations of individuals, organizations, communities and societies by stimulating collaboration, research, learning, social innovation and strategic thinking. For more information:

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