In an attempt to foster greater collaboration among foundations and donor networks, the European Foundation Centre, in cooperation with DAFNE (Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe, 21 members across Europe collectively serving more than 5,500 donors and foundations), held its first ‘Autumn Assembly’ in Brussels on 7 November.
Bringing together over 150 participants, the Assembly was a ‘mega-panel’ of six consecutive sessions on subjects including accountability and transparency, codes of practice, limited life vs perpetuity, allocation of assets, technology and diversity. As one participant put it, the sessions were just long enough to spark a debate to be pursued later in more in-depth discussions.
In live polling (conducted before and after each session – pictured), nearly half the audience stated they were doing all they could to promote accountability and transparency while the other half felt they could be doing more. Both camps were eager to learn about the new EFC and DAFNE report Transparency and Accountability: Regulation of Public Benefit Foundations in Europe which was launched at the meeting. In a panel on codes of practice, more than half the audience expressed a desire for EFC and DAFNE to do more than promote and monitor basic codes of practice and raise the bar with more aspirational principles that challenge European foundations.
When it comes to technology, nearly half the audience said they were ‘keeping up with the times’. When asked for a show of hands of those using Twitter for work on a regular basis, there were only a few stragglers … and it was at this point that the man next to me asked ‘What is Twitter anyway?’
On diversity, too, more than half of those present agreed that more diverse boards and staff are more efficient and effective in the long term – though overall there seemed to be little understanding of how to apply principles of diversity in practice. Certainly a subject for further debate.
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Filiz Bikmen is director of programs and ınternational relations at Sabanci Foundation. Email email@example.com