Let’s tell the story, not whisper it


Polina Nyukhina


In January 2020 I was honoured to represent Ukraine in PEXForum 2020 – 30 hours of interaction with like-minded people, and representatives of infrastructure organisations of philanthropy.

Creative formats were offered to participants by the organisers DAFNE and AEF – including space for brainstorming, brainwriting and open discussion. These are probably the best formats for people to be actively engaged. We have got used to the formats of conferences as lectures and workshops, where the visitors are tasked with learning something new and interacting with others during the break. However, it is great when the goal is the event process itself.

The organisers carefully selected practitioners who work on the infrastructure of philanthropy on a daily basis who are aware of the challenges, successes and goals, with the target of work together through the insights, controversies and discussions. Personally, I look forward to the PEXForum 2020 organisers releasing a document that summarises visitors’ experience. However, while I’m waiting, it’s time to share my own summary of what happened.

PEXForum 2020 was represented by 40 European philanthropy infrastructures, national philanthropic associations, research institutions and the media. The main areas of discussion were: data in philanthropy (collection, processing, analysis and usage); demystifying advocacy (how philanthropists work with policymakers without losing their own values); communication for building trust and cooperation.

This included Nathan Koeshall of The GivingBalkans.org database which collects data from several Balkan Peninsula countries simultaneously. Information about donors, recipients of donation, its purpose, as well as country and time of donation are available. Representatives of this platform are convinced that such data is important not only for fundraisers, but also for the media, CSR business departments, private investors, and also for researchers.

The platform has been around for five years, and the interesting fact is that initially the data was collected manually: through surveys, phone interviews and personal meetings. Later, software and a certain level of trust from the funds were developed, which now allow data to be collected automatically. However, GivingBalkans.org’s data is still being processed and analysed manually; the usage of machine learning or artificial intelligence is still to come. Most PEXForum participants agreed that Europe needs a single platform for philanthropic data and that big data technologies would be applied to the pan-European database similar to Advancing Human Rights and Candid.

Other than data processing, complex questions remain about the quality of data analysis, their storage, and personal data protection. I am positive, that the answers will be found in the near future.

We also discussed the European Advocacy Agenda that defines the European Philanthropy Manifesto, which offers officials four simple steps including:

  1. Discovering and joining the world of philanthropy;
  2. Promoting philanthropy without restrictions and boundaries;
  3. Protecting the ideas of philanthropy;
  4. Supporting donors and investing in the public goods and civil society.

The participants agreed that joining as many partners as possible would promote effective advocacy at both pan-European and national levels.

Communication in philanthropy requires greater diversity in the face of changing generations and rapid technological development. It is not enough of simple storytelling, cultural, entertainment events, and direct dialogue. We need more comprehensive approaches in identifying our target audiences, their needs, their language, and communication channels. The presence of only one specialist in a non-profit organisation may delay the overall development of the organisation. After all, philanthropy solves more socially important tasks than business, but communicates them much more quietly. Therefore, social media marketing, visualisation, and gamification should become as important as fundraising or organisational development.

Polina Nyukhina is Director of Ukrainian Philanthropists Forum

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