Last month, more than 70 participants came together on a virtual meeting room for DAFNE’s summer meeting with many questions and answers in mind. Though the view from where we each stand may seem cloudy for the time being, the storm of ideas shared during the meeting reminded us that the sun is still there and will surely come up with our collective effort for philanthropy.
I believe there are many things to be learned from the crisis we are all in right now and I explore some of them below. However, if I am to reflect on the most crucial thing that is already crystal clear, this would be the need for change. As it formed the basis for all the issues discussed during the DAFNE Summer Meeting, this crisis has shown us it is high time we, as philanthropy infrastructure organizations, took a step away from ourselves to recognise the patterns we have been holding for so long may not be the ultimate and most efficient ways of doing things. As a self-reflection, which was also noted as urgently needed right now, I would like to reflect on three themes that the DAFNE Summer Meeting provided me with a space to think more on, and these are collaboration, communication and contribution.
The meeting provided me an opportunity to dig deeper on the issue of collaboration since it was mentioned more than once in different sessions. We always knew that the problems we are trying to address are too complex for single players to alone come up with sustainable solutions; however, the crisis we are in sort of forces us to go beyond that and find new ways to maximise the effect of the work we all put so much energy in to by reassessing what we understand collaboration to mean. This includes the collaborations we create with our members and our stakeholders; and the collaborations that some of us had been reluctant to make for different reasons up until now. The crisis brought all of us to a point where finally being in this together is more important than any concerns around whom, under what circumstances and how we act together. Now we all have a chance to look at our invisible boundaries and stretch them, or who knows, say goodbye to them for good.
The second issue that drew my attention was something I also have been thinking so much about lately: communication. The fragility we have all witnessed in the sector in the last two months has shown the need for a better understanding of each other and the actors in the field, both in terms of situation and volume of the effect, and it is possible to say that this understanding can only be achieved by finding more effective ways of communicating. Maybe it is time for us to consider changing ‘talking to’ to ‘talking with’ in order to both understand and to be understood better. The issues we have been dealing with and their solutions may be clear for us, but are they for the audience that we would like to reach? While we are communicating for the better, do we really add the essence that will make others in the conversation think we are speaking the same language? And the tone of our communication – is it really as appealing to others as it is to us? This may be the time where we should also consider all these questions if we are talking about getting the support of individuals, organizations, our members and – in a broader sense – all the actors in the field.
The meeting also provided me with an opportunity to consider how contribution is still the backbone of the work we do and one thing that will surely come with us to what is defined as ‘the new normal’. Contribution does not only ease some processes but also makes them even stronger at the end of the day and considering the slippery ground we are all on right now, this may now be important more than ever. The DAFNE Summer Meeting itself was actually a solid proof of this; starting from identified issues and imagining a better sector for all of us by contributing to each other’s ideas sort of served as branches that we can hold on to until the sun is up again.
Birce Altay is Communications Coordinator at TUSEV – Third Sector Foundation of Turkey