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ERNOP 2023 pre-conference event: Safe spaces for philanthropy

Download Program June 28th, 2023

This event, taking place the day before the ERNOP Research conference, aims to host and facilitate in-depth exchanges between academia and philanthropy professionals. The event will connect academics with philanthropy professionals practitioners, foster learning from academia and practitioners and to create safe spaces in which participants address themes that include a high level of trust. Furthermore, we aim that the output of the safe spaces will be looped back into research on related topics and an edited volume of ‘Dialogues‘ that will be published by the Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing. 

What are ‘Safe Spaces’?

Safe spaces intend to be free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, or conversations were people can speak freely, and are being treated with openness and respect, without loosing individual integrity. Universities are by definition places that should function as safe spaces and integrating them into ERNOP brings a valuable format part of our association and provide a mean to deepen our understanding of the topic we all care about: philanthropy. By collaborating with Philanthropy Europe Asssociation (Philea), we aim to make these Safe Spaces relevant for all working in, with and for philanthropy in Europe. We are grateful for their assistance in developing the format and for kick-starting the conversations through hosting the icebreaker.

By creating safe spaces for philanthropy, this initiative seeks to create new partnerships between academics and professionals working in and for philanthropy. For practitioners it will create an opportunity for peer learning and exchange on topics that are essential to the functioning of philanthropic organisations but often create friction and frustration. Also practitioners are provided with academic reflections to the topics that are on the table – it gives them a way to better understand the processes and possibilities to overcome these frictions,  stay on the top of the most recent research, and connect their daily practice and strategic thinking with research evidence. For academics it provides an opportunity to engage with an in-depth conversation on issues that are of importance to professionals working in the philanthropy sector and to integrate their feedback into their work. The conversations will provide a platform to share knowledge and raise new avenues for innovative research and collaborations.

Trust is essential for Safe Spaces: All joining this event have formally agreed on the Chatham House Rule: participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.


12.00 – 13.00 Registration and lunch

13.00-13.05 Welcome by Barry Hoolwerf, ERNOP Executive Director & Rita Kottasz (Editor in chief, Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing)

13.05-13.45 Who’s afraid of? This panel of key representatives from academia, philanthropy and philanthropy advisory will address opportunities and hurdles for effective collaboration   (Tobias Jung (ERNOP President), Delphine Moralis (Philea Chief Executive), Olga Torasov (Senior Director, Inquiry and Insights, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), moderated by Rita Kottasz (Journal of Philanthropy and Marketing).

13.45-14.15 Break-out groups – Ice Breakers (Sevda Kilicalp, Philea)

14.15-15.45 Safe spaces – in dept exchanges between academia and practice

Every session will start with a introduction on the related topic – what do we know ? How does this apply to philanthropy? Moderators will share (im)possibilities and achievements in dealing with the topic, struggles and pitfalls.Together they will invite participants to share their experiences and possible ways to overcome challenges. Academic contributions and moderators come from ERNOP members, contributions from practitioners from representatives of the broad spectrum of philanthropy.

Safe Spaces

Impact – (im)possibilities, managing internal and external expectations

Hosted by Reinhard Millner (WU Vienna) with Kate Sullivan (Generali Foundation)

Impact is on the agenda for years but still feeds debates among academics and puzzles many working in philanthropy. Discussions about (lack of) measurement tools and to implications for (strategic) decision making and from theories of change to unintended effects and attribution of implemented projects often lead to frustration and frozen organisations. What does really matter in impact measurement? Can we move beyond the ‘definition’ and engage in trust-based approaches as well as connecting evidence to strategy?

Diversity & Inclusion

Hosted by Laetitia Gill (Geneva Centre for Philanthropy) with Maja Spanu (Fondation de France)

What is the role of philanthropy in the promotion of diversity, whether internally and externally? Should it be a priority for philanthropic organizations, and if so why and how? What is their scope for action on this topic? Do foundations, staff and board members, carry a special responsibility towards societies in the promotion of diversity and other key concepts and practices that may participate to the constitution of more inclusive and equal societies? Do join us to discuss together these essential yet complex issues in our safe space on diversity, equity and inclusion. Everyone’s welcome!

Engaging with stakeholders and empowering communities

Hosted by Janis Petzinger (University of St Andrews), Tobias Jung (University of St Andrews) and Dennis Arends (Porticus)

Given the size of philanthropy it seems obvious to collaborate with other organisations to be effective as possible, pool resources, have a stronger voice and learn. Perhaps even more importantly people and organisations that work directly with target audience know best about their needs and effective interventions. And what about the final beneficiaries themselves?  Yet too often collaborations do not move beyond ad hoc informal relationships and project based cooperation. What conditions are required for truly integrated collaboration to achieve greater impact? To what extent can communities of practice be developed, sustained and empowered? Or should we also stick to a top-down approach?

Philanthropy and  its engagement in political activities

Moderated by Theo Schuyt (VU Amsterdam) with Volker Then (Fondazione AIS) and Hanna Surmatz (Philea)

For a long time, foundations in Europe have been working in relative silence. However, external and internal developments make philanthropy step up a stage and have the spotlights on. Meanwhile, the operating space for (international) philanthropy seems constantly under review. Does philanthropy have to worry about these developments, and can something be done? Is there a need for philanthropy to become involved in philanthropy advocacy to be able to maintain its voice and to engage in political activities? What lessons can be learned from becoming more active in policy-making? Or should philanthropy not be involved in politics as this will counter back?

Philanthropic and voluntary leadership

Hosted by Georg von Schnurbein (University of Basel) with Sufina Ahmad (John Ellerman Foundation)

Values drive our behaviour. Within philanthropic organisations it would make sense that the values of leaders resemble the driving values of the organisation. Or are leaders within these organisations no different than their commercial or public counterpart? What are the values of leaders and what would be the use of these values for management of staff? Does it help or provide hindrance? And what role for board members?

15.45-16.15 Coffee break

16.15-17.15 Reflections and Knowledge harvesting by chairwoman and hosts

Based on the conversations in the safe spaces, session hosts engage in a conversation with Rita Kottasz on key take aways and learnings with a focus on implications for theory and practice.