The recently concluded #WINGSForum2023, held in the vibrant city of Nairobi, has left an indelible mark on the world of philanthropy. With its resonating theme of “TRANSFORM,” this global gathering of philanthropic leaders and change-makers has illuminated the path to a brighter, more equitable future. As we reflect on the insights and discussions from this forum, it becomes evident that philanthropy possesses not only the potential but the obligation to be a driving force for transformation in society.
Day 1: Embracing Transformation
The inaugural day of the forum commenced with a powerful call to action that resonated throughout the event. In a world fraught with pressing challenges, the resounding message was that philanthropy must evolve, innovate, and rise to the occasion. Here are some key takeaways from this transformative day:
Solidarity and Collective Action: Stigmata Tenga, Executive Director of the African Philanthropy Network, highlighted the crucial importance of solidarity and collective action. It is not enough for philanthropy to merely allocate funds, it must ensure that resources remain in the hands of those who need them most.
A Shift in Mindset: Benjamin Bellegy, Executive Director of WINGS, encouraged a profound shift in our philanthropic mindset. It is not about accolades or donor recognition, it is about enabling change and impact, becoming catalysts for transformative solutions.
Day 2: Challenging Inequality
The second day of the forum shed light on the pervasive issue of inequality and the role philanthropy can play in addressing it. These key takeaways emerged:
Wealth Disparities Laid Bare: Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, CEO of Oxfam, presented startling statistics on the pandemic-induced wealth gap. Philanthropy must recognise this stark inequality and act as a force for equity.
Voluntary Redistribution: Marlene Englhorn’s impassioned plea for voluntary wealth redistribution by the super-rich challenges the status quo. Philanthropy should not perpetuate disparities, it should actively work to bridge them.
Core Values of Philanthropy: Vidya Shah, Founder of EdelGive Foundation, emphasised the core values underpinning transformative philanthropy. Learning, humility, bottom-up processes, and meaningful participation should guide our giving strategies.
Day 3: Decolonisation and Collaboration
The third and final day of the forum brought discussions on decolonisation and collaboration to the forefront. These takeaways are pivotal for philanthropy to make a lasting impact:
Reshaping Civil Society: Grace Maingi discussed how shifts in government policies in Kenya, focusing on service delivery and grassroots approaches, are reshaping the landscape for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Strengthening these organisations in their mission to amplify community-driven advocacy and resource mobilisation is imperative.
Democratising Access to Resources: Jonathas Meireles de Azevedo showcased initiatives aimed at diversifying philanthropy in Brazil. For marginalised communities, true democracy is still under construction, and philanthropy must play a role in changing that narrative.
Decolonising Aid: Lornah Afoyomungu challenged the audience to critically examine philanthropy’s colonial roots. It is a call to action to rethink and reformulate our approaches to aid and giving.
A Brighter Future through Collective Action
The participants at #WINGSForum2023 emphasised the importance of engaging in difficult conversations, acting with urgency, involving diverse stakeholders, and recognising the various forms of giving. These collective takeaways reaffirm that philanthropy is not just about financial contributions, it is about instigating genuine change.
The power of philanthropy lies not only in its financial resources but in its capacity to inspire and catalyse transformation. It is about reshaping paradigms, dismantling inequalities, and fostering collaboration. The insights and discussions from this forum have set the stage for a brighter future, one where philanthropy emerges as a potent force for positive, enduring, and equitable change.
As we forge ahead, we must heed the call to transform our approach to philanthropy. Let us embrace innovation, diversity, and accountability. Together, we can work towards a world where philanthropy is not just a source of funding but a catalyst for comprehensive, long-lasting, and equitable transformation. The transformative potential of philanthropy has been illuminated, now it is our collective responsibility to harness it for the benefit of all.