24 May 2019

Closing Plenary Paris 2019 – Fraternité & Philanthropie

The EFC’s 30th Annual General Assembly and Conference ended with a closing plenary on fraternité and philanthropy, bringing together the conversations from the past three days and looking ahead to next year’s conference in Vienna.

French journalist Frédérique Bedos, as the plenary’s keynote speaker, gave a passionate and moving speech on the importance of love and family, describing an unusual life story which showed that “taking risks is worth it, and that anything is possible”. She described an upbringing where her adoptive parents in the northern part of France became her first source of inspiration – they took her in as well as 20 “unadoptable” children from around the world:

I am a journalist and I dare to dream of love. Who dreams of being ‘tolerated’? Love saves us, not tolerance. It is urgent to learn to love in order to build human fellowship. We live in a wounded world, we are all wounded beings. The only way to heal, is to go beyond our fears and learn to love each other. This is how we heal ourselves and our world.

She also spoke about the importance of journalism as a central pillar of democracy, and introduced Le Projet Imagine, the NGO she founded in 2010 which produces short, medium-length and full-feature films that are inspirational and move people to take action.

EFC Chair Massimo Lapucci began his closing speech by asking whether the ideals of liberty, equality and solidarity are just as sought after today as they were in the 18th century, as we witness global trends which are increasingly illiberal, unequal, and divisive. He spoke of the importance of considering structural changes in our sector that could lead to rethinking of the number of organisations that make up the European scenario of philanthropy today:

This is with a view to making the most of the skills and excellence of each organisation, to develop a unique voice for philanthropy that is even more incisive, and to look at improving our own ability to achieve greater impact: leading us to a new and strong legitimacy. We must have the courage to explore the feasibility for the consolidation of EFC and DAFNE, potentially leading to a merger, to optimise the capacity for dialogue with EU institutions and maximise impact of the 150,000 European foundations.

Massimo Lapucci ended by awarding Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the EFC Compass Prize, the fifth ever since its launch ten years ago, with Sara becoming the first woman to receive this recognition.

A member for many years of the board EFC’s Management Committee, Governing Council and various networks and working groups, Sara was recognised for her prominent work not just for Barrow Cadbury, but for the EFC and wider philanthropic sector in Europe. She embodies the qualities and values that are at the root of the organisation she leads: speaking truth to power and striving for collaboration, engagement, independence and innovation.

On receiving the Prize, Sara emphasised that this was not simply a recognition of her work, but of the effort and toil of myriad colleagues she had worked with and gained inspiration from.  She paid further tribute to all of the women who had come before her in the EFC community, for laying the groundwork, and for aiding her in her early years, stating that “this award is for them…the sisterhood is powerful!”

The conference concluded with a trailer for the 2020 EFC Conference, which will take place in Vienna from 20-22 May under the title “Foundations and the New Normal – How to Innovate Philanthropy?” and hosted by Erste Stiftung.