Funders must collaborate to ‘future proof’ philanthropy infrastructure, says new report

 

Andrew Milner and Charles Keidan

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A report backed by leading funders of Europe’s philanthropy infrastructure has called on foundations and infrastructure bodies to work more effectively together to meet major challenges on the horizon.

This is the key message of a report by German consultancy, Beyond Philanthropy, released today.

Writing exclusively in Alliance, its authors Filiz Bikmen and Michael Alberg-Seberich argue that the European Philanthropy and Social Investment Infrastructure (EPSII) needs to offer more ‘outward engagement’ to policy circles, the public and the media. It also needs to move ‘from analog to digital’ and drive coordinated action on the use of data by the sector. ‘The lack of publicly available data about what foundations and social investors are doing, how much they are spending and other critical data points is a significant and immediate concern’, the author’s argue.

The report was based on a review of existing literature and over 50 interviews with foundation leaders, EU officials, academic bodies and infrastructure organisations. Among key recommendations were the need to improve competency in areas like asset and risk management, scaling programmes, understanding and applying technology, and communications. The message for donors is that they should see funding for sector infrastructure as a critical contribution to the field not as an administrative cost. Stakeholders also perceive strategic alignment and transparency of funders as ‘critical’ for effectiveness, according to the report.

The report’s authors suggest that the ‘future-readiness’ of Europe’s philanthropy infrastructure requires ‘new combinations of organisational competencies and individual character qualities….the collective impact of EPSII matters more today than the individual impact of any one organisation.’ The author’s note that this puts a responsibility on each organisation’s leaders, staff, funders and members to ask themselves, ‘what can we do with and for the sector, not just our own organisation?’

The study was funded by the Adessium Foundation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Fondation de France, King Baudouin Foundation, Robert Bosch and Stiftung Mercator. In their foreword, the foundations note the need for ‘infrastructure to represent our sector, to drive innovations and to increase in the impact of our work. The latter is very much connected to tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time.’

Download and view the full report here.

Charles Keidan is editor of Alliance magazine

Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance magazine


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