15 December 2021

Reflections of 2021 and Hopes for 2022

2021 was quite an unusual year. The remarkable speed of COVID-19 vaccine development was not followed by the same speed of healing. In fact, more people died from the coronavirus disease in 2021 than in 2020 – according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. What changed, however, was the adaptation of social responsibility and philanthropic programs towards building resilience after the pandemic. Rising inequalities — including vaccine inequality — , worsening consequences of the climate change, COVID-19 implications for mental health and well-being, democratic backsliding, and shrinking space for civil society were only some of the pressing issues of 2021 that philanthropy and civil society need to continue tackling in 2022, in partnership with other stakeholders such as businesses and policymakers.

Despite this challenging environment, we believe there are many reasons to be hopeful at the turn of 2021 and 2022. We believe in the power of passionate and resilient people and their ability to be the change they want to see in the world. European philanthropic community is filled with such people who have formed strong solidarity groups to support each other. The European Foundation Center (EFC) Conference in Vienna revived the impulse for collaboration. The convergence between the EFC and Dafne – Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe that led to Philea – Philanthropy Europe Association – also provides an opportunity for European philanthropy to become a much stronger and unified voice to accelerate change.

COP26 Conference is another reason to be hopeful. Real commitments were made by governments and companies to get to zero emissions by 2050. A wide range of industries want to be a part of the transition. Government officials, business leaders, philanthropists and activists need to work together to turn these commitments to reality.

With no doubt, digitalization is at the forefront of everything we do. Digital tools make things easier for – and more complicated at the same time. Digital tools provide the flexibility to handle many duties online. We are curious to see how the virtual space and metaverse technologies will affect our work in 2022. On a more cautious note, we need to evaluate how technology and AI are used to monitor our activities. The need to protect fundamental freedoms and human rights and engage in digital ethics advocacy has never been as urgent as it is today.

Philanthropy and civil society have a unique role to play addressing these pressing issues and amplifying collective impact in 2022. Responsibility, solidarity and unity should remain key values for us in the new 2022. Driving collaboration, innovation and diversity within PEXcommunity and the wider European philanthropy sector will guide our work next year. One big hope for next year will be the realization of the “Road to Istanbul” that we have envisioned at our first PEXforum 2020 in Madrid.

We are eager to welcome the New Year with these thoughts and hopes.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2022!


Rana Kotan
Suzana Djordjevic
Hemofarm Foundation I Serbian Philanthropy Forum