5 September 2019

To align, or not to align, that’s the question

Press release: Over 150 corporate foundations and social investors from 17 countries gathered at the 1st European Corporate Philanthropy and Social Investing Summit to explore strategic alignment between corporate social investors and the related companies

The C Summit, the first European Corporate Philanthropy and Social Investing Summit, gathered corporate foundations and social investors interested to find out more about the potentials and pitfalls of strategic alignment and figuring out what the current trends and issues in philanthropy are. The event took place on 11 and 12 September in Munich, Germany, organised by EVPA and DAFNE, andkindly hosted by the BMW Foundation.

The theme of the summit was strategic alignment, defined as the partnership between a corporate social investor or corporate foundation and its related company to support its social impact ambition. Research results of the past year highlighted that alignment is not a dichotomous choice. Strategic alignment is much more than aligning on business – there is also thematic, instrumental or industry alignment, depending on the fit with its context and impact ambitions. Do they want to primarily create impact for society through their own operations and programmes, or do they equally want to use their inherent relationship with a company to influence and transform the related company or industry?

The two keynotes, Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta, and Leslie Johnston, Executive Director of the C&A Foundation introduced their strategic alignment from the perspective of a company and a corporate foundation respectively. While Erik Fyrwald shared how they support the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture by giving them access to know-how, infrastructure, and other resources, Leslie Johnston highlighted how corporate foundations act and work independently, but can use their connection with a company to get a seat at the table and promote systemic change.

“As the world is in uproar about social inequality, climate change and trade wars, this summit comes at the perfect time. The world still lacks a staggering $2.5 trillion annually to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. There is simply no way we can tackle that without the contribution of the corporate sector. The challenges that we face are plentiful. Above all questions, I am also 100 per cent certain of one fact: That no single initiative, foundation or company can solve these issues alone. We need to work together in truly transparent and meaningful collaboration.”, noted Daniel Nowack, Managing Director at Yunus Social Business.

The two keynotes were followed on the second day by over 20 outstanding movers and shakers in the field, such as Essilor, Philips Foundation, Renault Mobiliz, ENDEVA, Sanofi Espoir Foundation, Trafigura Foundation, JTI Foundation and BMW Foundation sharing their experience and challenges related to strategic alignment.

The C Summit was kindly hosted by the BMW Foundation, and organised with the financial support of JTI Foundation and Trafigura Foundation.

Please find more information about the CSummit here: www.c-summit.eu and about the different types of strategic alignment here.


EVPA is a membership association made up of organisations interested in or practising venture philanthropy and social investment across Europe. Established in 2004, the association aims to be the home of investors for impact committed to using venture philanthropy and social investment tools to target social impact.

Part of EVPA is also the Corporate Initiative, a sub-community of more than 60 corporate foundations, social impact funds, accelerators and other socially-driven corporate entities in search of the most effective ways to maximise their societal impact through joint-learning across Europe.


DAFNE is Europe’s largest network of donors and foundations associations. With 30 member associations with a collective membership of more than 10,000 foundations and grant-makers, DAFNE is a leading voice of donors and foundations in Europe.

We underpin individual activities of our members by encouraging dialogue and collaboration between the national associations and their members and are committed to shape the enabling environment for philanthropy across Europe.


Max von Abendroth, Executive Director, DAFNE


Ioana Traista, Communications Manager, EVPA