Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe

The Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe is an intensive, peer-led leadership development programme that brings together 20 philanthropy professionals from China and Europe for a period of 8 days to enhance their leadership skills by sharing their knowledge, experience, creativity and concerns with each other.

At a time when there is growing recognition of philanthropy’s role and the need for intense collaboration in solving the world’s largest problems, fostering more and stronger ties between philanthropic traditions from across the globe are a must.

China and Europe are interdependent in various ways: they have strong trade and investment ties, they are partners in addressing global & regional challenges, with respect to the climate emergency. That is not to say there aren’t areas of tension where both regions need to engage and pursue the search for common ground.

Therefore, collaboration, respect, and mutually benefiting engagement remain of the utmost importance. In that respect, the sector of philanthropy can be a major force for good.

The programme challenges participants to:

  • Think creatively
  • Test out different tools and methodologies to think through issues and problems
  • Explore different leadership styles, emphasising the importance of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and an open mind
  • Reflect on change management
  • Value the power of collaboration; actively engage in problem solving; and gaining intercultural competence
  • Enhance cooperation between Chinese and European foundations

The aim is for participants to go back to their home organisations and contexts with new perspectives, tools and insights that will make them better leaders, and in turn enhance the impact of their organisations.

All costs except travel are covered by the organisers.

How is the programme structured?

The programme lasts a total of 8 days: 2 days for travel and 6 days for the programme activities. Participants engage in group and plenary interaction, and active exchange with high-level experts and leaders of institutions in the public, private and voluntary sectors. The programme is built on the following specific activities:

  • Group work on specific topics
  • Plenary discussions
  • Lectures and trainings
  • Intergroup workshops
  • Excursions to other foundations and non-profit organisations
  • Site visits to local philanthropy projects

To boost the sharing experience, each participant will be paired up throughout the programme with one of their intercontinental peers.

Who is eligible?

This programme is open to philanthropy practitioners working in grantmaking organisations. Applicants should be fully committed to actively participating and engaging in the programme and respecting the confidentiality of other participants. The applicant’s organisation should fully support the applicant’s total participation for the duration of the programme. As the programme is conducted in English, the ability to work in English is essential.

When and where?

The programme normally takes place annually, and the location alternates between Europe and China, with a new set of participants, each year. Participants get the opportunity to visit locations within a two-hour travel range, as well as experience first-hand the work of philanthropy and NGOs locally.


Participants are responsible for covering the costs of travel to/from the programme location. All other costs (meals, transportation, accommodation) associated with the programme will be covered by the organisers.

The selection process

Philea, CFF and Stiftung Mercator make the selection of programme participants from the application pool. All applicants will be notified of the final selection by the end of May of each programme year.

Applications open for the Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe 2024

Applications are now open for the Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe, taking place from the 1-8 September in Beijing.

Learn more

About the organisers

The programme is funded by Stiftung Mercator and led by Philea in partnership with China Foundation Forum.

  • Stiftung Mercator, a Philea member, is a private and independent foundation. Through its work it strives for a society characterised by openness to the world, solidarity and equal opportunities.
  • Philea is an association of philanthropic organisations and national associations with members from across Europe and the globe.
  • China Foundation Forum is a platform established voluntarily by foundations aiming at pursuing excellence and achieving progress in the Chinese foundation sector.

Additional information

Please address any questions you may have to Yana Smith.

What some PLP: China-Europe alumni have to say about the programme:

The PLP programme provides an excellent platform and mature resources which efficiently bring us a massive amount of knowledge and information, all within a two week learning period. It was a very indepth exchange

Ling Feng (2022 alumni)

Deputy Secretary General, Huamin Charity Foundation
A wise man once said ‘in all your getting, get understanding’. PLP is a unique opportunity to gain cultural, philanthropic and peer understanding. Take it!

Neil van der Meer (2018 alumni)

Operations Director, Bernard Van Leer Foundation
It was a sort of protected space and time in which you are able to carve out intimate discussions, learn about cultural diversity, enrich your vision, compare different perspective and challenge or question different ideas but above all, for sharing common willingness of cooperating to improve philanthropy

Daniele Messina (2022 alumni)

Head of Programs, Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena
The PLP programme was the best training I have attended during my work in philanthropy. Actually, it was more like a life experience which included gaining deep understanding of Chinese philanthropy, becoming friends with colleagues from different countries and sharing experiences in a warm and secure environment.

Rana Kotan (2018 alumni)

Director of Programs and International Relations, Sabanci Foundation
2017 was a defining year in my career path and for my engagement with global philanthropy. As the first Dane to be accepted to join the “Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe”, together with 10 Chinese and 10 European executives, advisors and managers working for foundations, it surely opened my eyes and broadened my thoughts and reflections on global leadership in complex contexts.

Susanne Dahl (2017 alumni)

Director of Partnerships and Programmes, UNICEF


Yana Smith
Programme Officer
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