Building the Home for Systemic Change Philanthropy

Report by Nicole Leonard

EDGE Europe Retreat 2016 – July 8-10, 2016
La Bergerie, Domaine de Villarceaux, Île-de-France

img_1089From the 8th to the 10th July 2016, EDGE Funders Alliance promoted the first gathering of its European members one year after the inception of EDGE in Europe at La Bergerie, an organic farm and retreat centre of the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation near Paris.
31 participants from 20 different foundations engaged deeply with shaping EDGE as the home for systemic change philanthropy in Europe.

Exploring the Just Transition

Participants explored and criticized Movement Generation’s Just Transition Framework, first introduced at the EDGE Just Giving Conference in Berkeley earlier this year. The discussion raised a number of important aspects, such as the dominance of the economy in the model, the (over?) focus on local and grassroots level, the role of women, care work and feminism in the model, and the question of leverage of system change funders, who are a marginal fraction of overall philanthropy. There was agreement that “if we don’t have consensus around the model, we might have about the purpose”.

Funding the new economy

Fiona Ward from Transition Network presented a study of twelve organizations commissioned by one EDGE member foundation. The findings suggested that in order to achieve a just transition, the lead of the process should also be in other players’ hands: “Leadership needs to be more balanced, diverse, and less hierarchical. A new economy cannot rely on the same organizational forms as the old economy”.

Working groups and way forward

Participants explored progressive philanthropic practice in seven working groups (Just Transition Collaborative, Commons, Closing Space for Activism, Participatory Activist Fund, Ethical Investment, Gender Justice Initiative and Climate Justice). Beyond a number of “soft” recommendations (see report p.11) the following next activities where agreed:

  • The Just Transition collaborative will be further explored as a organizing principle & way forward for EDGE at the Budapest meeting before the Degrowth conference in August.
  • A #EDGEtalk webinar “Sympathy for the Commons” will take place in September, EDGE will be involved in the European Commons Assembly in November.
  • Establishment of a participatory activist fund and platform, to be tentatively launched at the 2017 Just Giving conference in Barcelona.
  • The conference planning committee for the Barcelona Just Giving conference (25-28 April 2017) will be composed of two co-chairs, four European and two non-European funders and six movement people.
  • Internal communication will be improved in order to allow members to interact and build community. A task force, including Vivian Paulissen (European Cultural Foundation) and Romy Krämer (Guerrilla Foundation), is exploring options.
  • Amanda Gigler (Mama Cash) will be proposed to the EDGE board as additional European board member. Eva Rehse (Global Green Grants UK) and Vivian Paulissen (European Cultural Foundation) will join the European Steering Group.
  • EDGE in Europe is growing (currently 26 formal members) and has the vocation to be the platform for systemic change philanthropy in Europe. Growth should be managed carefully.

You can find the full report here.


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