Philanthropy Transformation Initiative

Amy McGoldrick

From climate change and inequality to unchecked Artificial Intelligence and pandemic risks, we face a global polycrisis that poses existential threats to humanity. Yet, there is hope as generosity and citizen action grow globally.

The Philanthropy Transformation Initiative is a collaborative effort to consolidate insights, principles and practices on philanthropy’s transformation from around the world and build a movement for transforming philanthropy so that it can achieve its full potential.

Moderated by Rhodri Davies, Director of Why Philanthropy Matters, the speakers included:

  • Benjamin Bellegy – Executive Director, WINGS
  • Sameera Mehra – Collective Intelligence and Advocacy Director, WINGS
  • Delphine Moralis – CEO, Philea
  • Somachi Chris-Asoluka – CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation
  • Rodrigo Pipponzi – Founder, Instituto MOL

A few highlights from the event

Benjamin said: This initiative is the expression of a collective effort from our network to bring together our collective wisdom, our collective intelligence, and try to influence the norms of the sector, try to accelerate change in the philanthropy field.

…Especially at the time of COVID-19, I think everyone got shaken up by the situation and we felt this vulnerability of our societies, of our civilisation in front of this massive pandemic happening in conjunction with other really deep global crises… We’re facing a really fundamentally new situation, and there’s a sort of human species-level conversation that needs to happen, and it concerns the entire philanthropy sector.

… We cannot fight the multiplication of challenges with the addition of solutions. ..How can we become multipliers? As a big global and diverse network, we really started thinking about what the practices and principles are that can guide our sector towards that kind of transformative role, that can really help to transform society in depth to address this global polycrisis, this set of interconnected, existential issues that are all rooted in our economic and governance models.

Sameera:  The 10 principles for transforming philanthropy are:

  1. Be accountable and transparent
  2. Be bold
  3. Share power
  4. Work with others
  5. Grow philanthropy ecosystems
  6. Align actions with values
  7. Think about root causes
  8. Use all assets
  9. Use the power of data
  10. Keep humanity’s future in sight

Delphine: Transformation is, of course, inevitable. There’s a Greek saying that ‘nothing is permanent’, and that’s always been the case. What has been different over the past years is that it has become essential for our survival to transform and to transform fast. In that sense, transformation is about increasing our ability to envision a new and different future, about accepting to let go what no longer serves us, about embracing uncertainty that comes with change, and – as in one of the principles – being bold enough to move forward with that grand vision. There is a momentum with philanthropy to embrace, a momentum to build upon the good practices that have emerged during the pandemic, and to think about that mindset shift that is needed, where we can reimagine our role, our purpose and our impact without letting go of what we know works.

Rodrigo: Transformation is having the ability of immersing on values and understanding how they can contribute with others to promote real, deep and extraordinary change. From my own perspective, I see that transformation comes when we identify and use our own privileges to the benefit of others, not only for ourselves. By privilege I mean power, money, networks. I really see that we as a society need transformation, and it has to be fast. For me it demands a lot of energy, a lot of courage, a lot of letting go. It’s about hard decisions sometimes. Finally… there’s no collective transformation if you don’t work on your own transformation – so it comes from personal to collective perspectives.

Somachi: I think transformation at the Tony Elumelu Foundation means eradicating poverty, creating jobs in the millions and economically empowering women. I think our role at the foundation is to create a convening avenue where we bring entrepreneurs, young people and government to the same table so that governments are able to get firsthand insights, data and knowledge directly from the entrepreneurs and young people on the gaps that exist policy-wise, the gaps that exist in terms of structure and what they would like to see governments do to support [them]. I often say that governments around the world mean well, and when you speak to and engage with them one-on-one you see that their hearts are in the right place, but you can’t act well when you lack the data, the inisghts and the information. ..We’ve done this across the continent and seen the incredible work that’s resulted.

There’s never been a time more urgent than now. Africa’s population is expanding every second, and we see that young people are increasingly getting restless, and with good reason. They don’t have good jobs, they’re trapped at home with aspirations that aren’t met. Some of them are crossing the Mediterranean in dangerous circumstances to escape their reality – we need to understand that no one wants to leave behind all that they know for a future that’s very uncertain. So you can’t imagine the dire realities that these people are facing, so there’s never been a more urgent time than now. That’s why at the foundation we call on a global realisation that these young people are who we should be prioritising.

You can watch the full video here:

WINGS recently launched the Philanthropy Transformation Initiative (PTI) website and the PTI Report, one of the milestones of this initiative, will be out in a few days. You can sign up here to receive a copy as soon as it’s published. Transformation will also be the key focus at one of philanthropy’s leading global gatherings, WINGSForum, for which registration is now open. Get your early bird tickets now!

Amy McGoldrick is the head of marketing, advertising and events at Alliance

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