25 February 2021

PEXforum 2021

On 27-28 January, the PEXcommunity gathered virtually for the second PEXforum:

“From Crisis to Renewal: Living up to our Vision of a Just and Sustainable Europe”

co-hosted by Dafne and Ariadne and facilitated by SenseTribe.

We have curated this mulitmedia page for you to re-live the highlights from the PEXforum 2021 and explore what the PEXcommunity has to say.

This post includes:

Looking for some more great content on the PEXforum 2021? Find the PEXpodcast and storybook here.

PEX Forum 2021 – Philanthropy is stepping out, but into what?

By Josiane Smith, Key Programmes Lead at SIX

At the time of writing, multiple contributors have already shared some excellent thoughts about the PEXforum 2021, a 2-day virtual convening hosted by Ariadne, Dafne and SenseTribe, which brings together philanthropy support organisations to explore the key values that unite European philanthropy and how to jointly advance the philanthropy ecosystem for a sustainable and just Europe. The authors share a sense that change is coming; that the future of philanthropy is being written by more, and more varied, authors, and that this next chapter has the potential to look radically different in demographics, practices, impact and outlook. 

The role of PEX in building trusting relationships, rooted in a common identity and shared values, is crucial not just for the sustainability and utility of philanthropy, but also for its necessary change from within. Now, as Barry Hoolwerf noted, common identity is not, nor should it be, a given when we consider the values of European philanthropy. Zibran Choudhury also notes that “many of the stories I heard and discussed aren’t linear… [they are multi-dimensional]. These complexities will challenge us…”

Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the PEXforum by listening to “All is Present, All is Here” by Stien Michiels (used with the artist’s permission).

“What is more important than following a conversation and becoming one with a community is to listen to this very quite voice that comes from within, and become one with yourself.”

The PEXforum 2021 Storybook

We kicked off the PEXforum with a meditation guided by Vasco Gaspar who encouraged us to STOP. LOOK. GO. This moment allowed participants to get to know each other and share their intentions for the coming days.

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

Reflections on the PEXforum 2021:

Interview with Delphine Moralis, CEO of the European Foundation Centre
Interview with Julie Broome, Director of Ariadne

“It is always the time for social justice […] but there has never been more a time than now for social justice”

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

Michael O’Flaherty put a face on social injustice during the COVID-19 pandemic: it is the 6 million Roma people in Europe, it is young people, it is women, all of which represent groups asymmetrically affected by the ongoing crisis. He urged to live up to the universal values to which we, as Europeans, are committed to and challenged us, as philanthropists, to champion this rights-based approach and give a voice to rights holders.  He highlighted the unique role we can, and should, play as a sector in providing long-term funding.

Reflections from the PEXcommunity:

So, my new year wish is that PEX, the collaboration of European philanthropic infrastructures, will help us all to do just this: honour both human dignity and human agency.

Debora Guidetti, What does love for humankind, justice and collaboration in philanthropy have in common?

“We need to find the faces behind the facts and figures”

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

Heba Kandil, Senior Training Manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundations, emphasised the importance of story-telling in making the abstract concrete and engaging with the beneficiaries we want to reach. Facts and figures convey important information but people want to hear stories about other people. As philanthropists, Heba encouraged us to find the faces behind the ideals and concepts that we support, the faces behind the values such as social justice, gender equity, the climate crisis, that tie us together and tell these stories.

Reflections from the PEXcommunity:

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

“Imagination is central to empathy and to enacting the necessary social change to overcome the many layered and intersecting challenges of widening inequality, structural racism, the climate crisis, and a global pandemic – to name a few.”

Joanna Pienkowska, PEXforum 2O21: the importance of investing imagination

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

“Imagine a sector worth 511 billion EUR, spending every year 60 billion EUR for public good. Employing around 200.000 very passionate and highly talented people and allowing a multiple of this number of volunteers to implement programmes and projects that aim to strengthen the fabric of our society, make it more resilient, just and sustainable. This is European philanthropy.

Max von Abdendroth, Sharing the story of PEX
Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

Why are there not more foundations with a European purpose, like the ECF? Why are they not more Erasmuses co-created by European foundations? Where is the European identity in the European philanthropic sector?” 

André Wilkens, Exploring European Philanthropy Identity
Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

“So are we all in the same boat, really?  Some of us are riding out this storm on yachts while others are clinging to pieces of driftwood.”

Julie Broome, Navigating social justice

Reflections on the challenges for philanthropy:

Interview with Georg von Schnurbein, Director of the Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS) of the University of Basel
Interview with Alina Porumb, President of APT/INSPIRE

Imagination has got us a long way in European philanthropy. It is important sometimes to stop and remember how far we have come. At one time it would have taken a lot of imagination to believe that people from local foundations in every country in Europe – East and West, North and South – would come together to meet, learn, discuss and sometimes work together on common goals. 

Nick Perks, Stop. Look. Go.
Collective harvesting from day 1 of the PEXforum 2021 on Miro

After exploring European philanthropy, what it could mean and how we can share this, participants were encouraged to consider cross-cutting themes in philanthropy.

Illustrations of the PEXprojects in a nutshell by Marina Roa from SenseTribe:

Reflections on collaboration:

“The trusted relationships established through the PEXcommunity are contributing to its sustainability and utility. They allow for shared understanding of issues and challenges, foster connections, build collective intelligence and promote collaboration – all of which make us more effective and valuable to our respective constituencies.”

James Magowan, All is Present, All is Here
Interview with Carola Carazzone, Secretary General of Assifero, Chair of Dafne, Advisory Board Member of Ariadne and  Member of the Experts’ Reflection Group of  ECFI

Interview with Carol Mack, Chief Executive of ACF and Dafne Board Member

“Today it is more important than ever to amplify the voices of those who have none but are at the receiving end of the world’s biggest challenges. To achieve this, deep collaboration within philanthropy is not an opportunity but an obligation for those who seek meaningful impact.”

Johannes Lundershausen and Daniel Großbröhmer, Fighting against climate change means fighting for collaboration
Collective harvesting from day 1 of the PEXforum 2021 on Miro
Illustration by Marina Roa, SenseTribe

We opened the second day of the PEXforum thinking about participatory leadership led by Mira Bangel and Laura Grassi from SenseTribe, the facilitators of the PEXforum 2021. We considered the “Four-fold practice,” growing our awareness of how to host ourselves, be hosted, host others and be a part of a hosting community. This practice prioritises diversity, helps us harness and build on collective intelligence.

“I would love to see philanthropy, foundations, working together without ego, without boundaries, hosting collectively”

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

Sir Geoff Mulgan challenged us by sharing his reflections on the future of philanthropy, and highlighting what we could, and should be, doing better as a sector. He shared five ways in which he would like to see the philanthropic sector collaborate to create a bigger impact, focusing on the infrastructure, the unglamorous plumbing which makes systems work so much better but is nearly always undervalued:

  1. Shared scanning
  2. Shared intelligence on what is happening
  3. Shared evidence to understand what works (and what doesn’t)
  4. ‘Intelligence assemblies’
  5. Imagination

Reflections from the PEXcommunity:

“For too long plantations of stand-alone trees – characterized by individualism, the logos, siloes, egos mentioned several times during the forum – were spaced in upturned soil stripped of most underbrush. The thinking was that, in a competing world, bowling alone and navel gazing individualities would thrive.”

Carola Carazzone, The social life of forests: Takeaways from the co-creation of the PEXcommunity

“The last part helped me reflect on the work of community foundations, who are the ‘local plumbers’ for the communities they serve, who support grassroot organisations, stimulate civic engagement, foster local philanthropy and create cultures of giving, build trust and bridges across divided areas.”

Michaela Giurgui, PEXforum 2021 – The good, the great and the surprising!
Collective harvesting from day 2 of the PEXforum 2021 on Miro

After this keynote, participants shared their thoughts on the future of philanthropy and the difference we can make as a community. They reflected on “How philanthropy needs to change to be more innovative and effective” and “How can we (the PEXcommunity) inspire philanthropy to be more ambitious and contribute to a just and sustainable future?” on Miro.

Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

Reflections on the PEXcommunity:

Interview with Max von Abendroth, Executive Director of Dafne
Interview with Maria Palomares, Executive Director of the Calala Fund for Women and Member of the EDGE Europe Steering Group

 “If PEX wants to be the space it can be, it needs to invite, support and cherish criticism, from within and outwith, of philanthropy and philanthropy networks and of their roles on paths towards justice and change.”

Martin Modlinger, From reflection to renewal
Illustration by Marina Roa from SenseTribe

For the final part of the PEXforum, we sought to transform our discussions, reflections and ideas from the previous sessions into tangible collaboration with the hope that it bears fruit in the coming year and beyond.

Reflections on future challenges:

“It’s clear to me that if today we miss the opportunity to become more active players in the efforts to fight the root causes of today’s inequalities and threats to democracy, we will become obsolete tomorrow. “

Justyna Duriasz-Bułhak, Philanthropy needs to fight the root causes of today’s inequalities

Although were all concerned with the greater common good across Europe, we differ in our views of what we consider the common good. By nature, philanthropic values and goals might conflict with one another. If are ought to democratise philanthropy, we must be very thoughtful in identifying what binds us as European philanthropists.

Barry Hoolwerf, Soul-searching at PEXforum
Collective harvesting from day 2 of the PEXforum 2021 on Miro

Some final thoughts:

One lasting reflection of mine is that many of the stories I heard and discussed aren’t linear. They involved sentiment, humanity, purpose and emphasis on both the individual and community. These complexities will challenge us, but it’s a challenge being embraced by the PEXcommunity.

Zibran Choudhury, Embracing the complexity of Europe

Enjoyed this?

Listen to the PEXpodcast and flip through the PEXforum 2021 storybook here.

Find Alliance Magazine’s coverage of the PEXforum here.