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ERNOP 2023 pre-conference event: Safe spaces for philanthropy

Preliminary Program

The day before the ERNOP Conference 2023, ERNOP, in collaboration with Philea, would like 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. 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. 

By creating safe spaces for philanthropy, this initiative seeks to partner academics, and professionals working in and for philanthropy. For practitioners it creates 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.

The event will first briefly take into account opportunities and barriers for in-depth exchange among people working in and for philanthropy and academics by an open conversation among key representatives of each participating group. The speakers will share best practices but also share their learnings from exchanging within and between stakeholders.

Preliminary Program

12.00 – 13.00

Registration and lunch




Who’s afraid of?

This panel of key representatives from academia, philanthropy and philanthropy advisory will address opportunities and hurdles for effective collaboration  



To facilitate exchange and building relationships, participants will engage in a facilitated informal icebreaker. 


Safe spaces – in dept exchanges between academia and practice

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

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

Considering the richness of all its forms, there is perhaps no societal sector that should celebrate diversity. Inconveniently however, many philanthropic organisations still are homogeneous. Lets name it – white, male and particularly from an elitist and secular background. What does this imply for the target groups philanthropy aims to serve? And for the functioning of the organisation itself?

Engaging with stakeholders and empowering communities

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?

Transparency, accountability and advocacy

For a long time foundations in Europe have been working in relative silence. However, external and internal developments makes philanthropy to step up a stage and having the spotlights on. Meanwhile the operating space for (international) philanthropy seems constantly under review. Does philanthropy has to worry about these developments? What lessons can be learned from becoming more transparent? How can this help in advocacy? 

Philanthropic and voluntary leadership

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?


Coffee break


Reflections and Knowledge harvesting

Based on the conversations in the safe spacious session moderators share key take aways and learnings with a focus on implications for theory and practice.