Aside from all being members of the EFC, what do Fondazione CARIPLO, Ford Foundation, Foundation for Polish Science, Instituto Marquês de Valle Flôr, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Wellcome Trust and ZEIT Stiftung have in common? Along with another 30 of our members, they are celebrating an important birthday this year. Whether the milestone is 150 or just 10 years, many of these foundations are taking the time to reflect upon their history, and marking the occasion by publishing books, hosting events and organising citizen-focused activities.
Some may question whether during a period of such political and economic turmoil in Europe and globally, it is appropriate for foundations to invest time and money in celebrating their past. But it is precisely at times like these that we should be learning and building on past experiences for the road ahead. There are important lessons to be gleaned, particularly from those foundations that were established during similar tumultuous times and that have tackled challenges not unlike those that face our societies today.
Anniversaries also provide a perfect opportunity for foundations not only to share successes and progress with partners, grantees, and the public more generally, but to also honour their founders. These men and women are powerful role models, whose values and commitment to addressing social challenges should be remembered and shared with society in order to inspire the next generation of responsible and responsive citizens. Mindful of this, a number of the birthday foundations have launched initiatives to recognise individuals who are demonstrating visionary thinking, much like those who came before them.
Another message coming from the celebrations is the fact that foundations are determined and willing to invest years, if not decades, to make a difference or bring about enduring progress. These celebrations are therefore not just wistful navel-gazing but a demonstration that foundations are committed players, capable of withstanding stormy waters and finding creative ways to solve pressing matters. So let us celebrate what has been achieved, but also use such occasions as valuable chances to harness the past in order to develop effective pathways to the future.