WingsForum 2017 – Critical Philanthropy: Addressing Complexity, Challenging Ourselves

The 2017 WINGS Forum was held 22- 24 February in Mexico City, a primary financial, political, and cultural center of Latin America. WINGS Forum is a flagship event, bringing together a globally diverse group of senior staff of philanthropy support organizations and leaders in philanthropy to share knowledge, network, and advance effective philanthropy worldwide. Held every three years, WINGS Forum has become the premier event in the global philanthropy community. Focused on identifying new innovations in the sector, WINGS Forum was designed as a peer learning experience where philanthropy leaders could share practical lessons, inspiration and pragmatic solutions from their work.

This year’s conference focused on the theme of “Critical Philanthropy: Addressing Complexity, Challenging ourselves”. The Chair of the WINGSForum 2017 Planning Committee and Secretary of APN, Jenny Hodgson, welcomed participants emphasizing that; “The theme of the 2017 WINGSForum, Critical Philanthropy, raises some important questions for us to reflect on. What role can and should philanthropy -whether private or participatory- play in addressing some of the critical issues of our time? Are we sufficiently reflective and self- critical when it comes to issues of power and influence”?

Forty one countries and 167 organisations attended this year’s WINGSForum. Members of the panel included representatives from community foundations, educational institutions, grant-makers and public foundations among others. The format comprised of brief presentations followed by open discussions with delegates from their respective organisations, where the need to determine the real motivation behind philanthropy was discussed. It was heavily debated as to whether philanthropy is impacting the fight for change and if it has an influence on the enabling environment and if social justice philanthropy is new to the social justice space and whether if it can make an impact.

Through the course of the 3 days there were various concurrent breakout sessions paneled by guest presenters. Dr. Bhekinkosi Moyo alongside Caroline Mahfood from the Grace Kennedy Foundation and Atallah Kuttab from SAANED for Philanthropy Advisory in the Arab Region hosted the: ‘Building Philanthropy Infrastructure: Experiences from Africa, Arab Region, and the Caribbean” session. The session drew on the experiences in building networks within the various regions, taking into consideration their similarities and differences. In particular, reflections on what philanthropy that are evolving; the challenges and obstacles we face and the roles of WINGS to help facilitate network building in our regions.

The Mexico City Declaration was also acknowledged. The Declaration is built on the three days of exchange at the WINGSForum, echoes the support from organisations, foundations, civil society, representatives and business leaders, that we remain steadfast in advancing effective human welfare through philanthropy. WINGSForum declared that they oppose the increased incidences of hate speech, the closing of civic space, the spread of misinformation, the silencing of rights advocates and the use of fear to manipulate public opinion. Furthermore, WINGS will use the growing power of philanthropy to mobilise the social, intellectual and material resources of the global community and leverage our partners to stand in solidarity with those who feel threatened by the rise of prejudice or national supremacy movements wherever they appear around the world.

WINGS Forum 2020 – in Nairobi, Kenya

APN is proud to announce that it will co-host the WINGS Forum 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya; bringing the Forum to Africa. This was announced on the last day of the Forum meeting in Mexico. This forum meeting promises to bring the philanthropy world to Africa, to engage and learn under African skies.

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