International Network for Strategic Philanthropy – Foundations discuss common challenges

How can foundations be more professionally managed and their governance structures made more effective? These were the main questions at issue in the INSP’s 3rd Summer Academy on Philanthropy, ‘Foundation Management and Governance’, which took place 25-27 August in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in conjunction with the European Foundation Centre (EFC) and the Free University of Amsterdam.

The three-day workshop was attended by 30 participants from more than 13 countries, most of whom were programme officers and CEOs. How can foundations evolve strategic communication methods to interact with different stakeholders? How important to a foundation’s work is brand management? Why are programme design and programme planning indispensable? And what is the role of committees with members serving on a voluntary or honorary basis? The Academy’s aim was to stimulate discussion among participants on topics such as these. Lectures therefore focused on themes like best practice in foundation governance, accountability, transparency and social reporting and strategic communication, as well as branding, programme design and planning.

One of the functions of the Summer Academy on Philanthropy is to provide a forum for practitioners to exchange ideas and experience. The group of participants was a heterogeneous one, ranging from representatives of the largest European foundations to those of the smallest, but despite structural and cultural differences, it became clear that most of them faced the same challenges of communication and board development.

Key publication on strategic philanthropy

The 11 papers developed by INSP working groups over the last three years are to be published in shortened form very early next year. The papers deal with elements of strategic philanthropy including the role of philanthropy in globalization, new instruments for philanthropy, promoting philanthropy, the role of evaluation in foundations, and effective board management. The publication is designed for foundations, for individual donors and for the general public. The papers are the most tangible output of the INSP initiative and manager Dirk Eilinghoff sees the publication as a collective knowledge-building effort that provides valuable information about the challenges and obstacles facing strategic philanthropy.

‘Promoting Philanthropy’ event

An INSP-hosted workshop, ‘Promoting Philanthropy: New approaches and applications’, will be held in Mexico City in mid-December. Its aim is to produce tangible tools and materials for promoting greater giving in a range of countries and cultures and it will consider matters like donor education, adviser outreach, peer engagement, family philanthropy and corporate giving, which have the potential for wide application. There will be a full write-up in the next issue of Alliance.

For more information see

If you have interesting and challenging texts on strategic approaches to philanthropy that you’d like to include on the INSP website, please contact Dirk Eilinghoff at

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