Variety of participation triumphs at Global Philanthropy Forum 2019


Harriette Rothwell


One aspect of the Global Philanthropy Forum 2019 (GPF) that I particularly appreciated was the variety of attendee interaction in structured, semi structured and more informal formats. Each style brought its own distinct type of learning and interaction for attendees and speakers alike.

On one end of the spectrum, there were the high-brow, big stage panelist and keynote presentations where the audience took a more passive role and listened to scholars and experts in the philanthropy and academic fields talking about themes including the role of data in democracy, knowledge sharing and localism. The benefits of these talks were informative and thought provoking as we learned about current trends in the Philanthropy environment. For example, I personally found it very interesting to learn from Jeremy Heimans from Purpose, about New vs Old Power. These sessions were not only intellectually stimulating but most of the information could be used to inform concrete decisions in practice.

We also had the semi structured breakout sessions that were smaller, more intimate discussions from practitioners who shared their experiences surrounding certain themes such as youth leadership and community approaches to poverty reduction. These sessions were more interactive and participatory compared to the keynote presentations. In these sessions all attendees and speakers sat around a table in order to share experiences and discuss ideas. My favourite session was hosted by The Draper Richards Kaplin (DRK) Foundation which impressively demonstrated successful philanthropy in action today. The Foundation supports social entrepreneurs who are tackling urgent social issues. From supporting causes such as drinking water access to voting facilitation, DRK provides economic and expertise support for three years to the innovative entrepreneurs. This session particularly struck a chord with me, a social entrepreneur myself also seeking support for my philanthropy consultancy whose mission it is to support grassroots nonprofits in Central America as a tool to address the root causes of forced migration to the US.

On the final day of GPF, we had table talk sessions where a dozen attendees organized discussions at designated tables. The themes varied from discussing fake news, philanthropy in China and my theme; ‘How Philanthropy can Help Resolve the Immigration Crisis’. I relished this opportunity to discuss a theme I am passionate about and it was an honour to share my thoughts with other experts. It was a rare, invaluable and unique experience. For example, I discussed my thoughts from an ‘on the ground perspective’ regarding the causes of migration from where I live in Guatemala, Jonathan Ryan from Raices shared his view on what he sees at the border in the immigration courts and Mafe Garcia from the Inter-American Development Bank gave her view from an Institutional Donor standpoint (and as a Venezuelan citizen).

All in all, GPF 2019 was a very enriching professional experience for me. Coming from a small, new and green philanthropy consultancy, it was invaluable for me to network with a variety of global experts and the variety of session formats gave me many entry points and opportunities to get to know the speakers and attendees. Well done to the Global Philanthropy Forum for a very successful event! Here’s to next year!

Harriette Rothwell is director at Pionero Philanthropy

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