Being the most effective membership association that unites the most prominent players of Europe’s institutional philanthropy, the EFC brings members together at the annual conference. Ukraine is represented in the association by only three foundations, including the Zagoriy Foundation, which became a member of the EFC earlier this year. As a newcomer and a ‘fresh face’, I had a chance to participate in the conference as the representative of the EFC member organisation, and as a NEXT GEN program attendee.
In this blog, I’m reflecting on my personal experience of participating in the 31st EFC conference as a part of NEXT GEN programme and invite you to look at the programme with my eyes.
In short, NEXT GEN is a special program for young professionals in the charity sector and/or representatives of organisations that have recently become members of the EFC. As a NEXT GEN program meparticipant in addition to the main events of the conference, I had an additional agenda. This extra agenda included planned meetings with the EFC team and top-level managers of the most effective philanthropic institutions.
Sometime before the EFC team asked me about what foundations/organisations’ representatives I would like to meet, and I send them my list out. My list included: The Robert Bosch Foundation, ERSTE Foundation, the Foundation de France and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
In order not to be distracted from the main agenda, the meetings were planned in the best traditions of the book ‘Never eat alone’: before/during breakfast, coffee breaks and lunch.
The most valuable thing in such meetings was that the conversations were not moderated. The organisers of the conference created an opportunity, but the course of the dialogue itself depended solely on me and the interlocutor.
The most common question from the participants was: ‘How do you measure the impact of your programmes?’. I know that many organisations are currently concerned about this as we in Zagoriy Foundation do. A lot of representatives of the foundations answered this question almost the same. They said that measuring impact is very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. However, it is not a fact that these measurements will be correct, given the side factors. They are unanimous, in their opinion, that instead of costly impact studies, it is better to relocate these resources and solve the urgent problem today. It’s important to understand that the future has already become: the perfect time to act is right now.
In general, the conference has become a safe space for networking. The possibilities for knowing people and getting new contacts were unlimited. Networking events at the conference were any break between panel discussions and presentations, evening events, and, by and large, any free minute. Compared to Ukraine, there was a contrast: people there are more open and ready to interact. What I feel about the conference is that at some point, I truly became a part of the community.
Oleksandra Lytvynenko is head of Development and Partnerships at Zagoriy Foundation