EDGE Europe Retreat 2017: Organising Philanthropy for Systemic Change

EDGE_Europe_Retreat_2017From 14 to 16 November 2017 the annual European EDGE members retreat took place at La Bergerie de Villarceaux, an organic farm and retreat centre owned and kindly provided by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation. 39 participants from 30 different organisation (25 out of 31 European members plus partner networks and friends) deeply engaged with shaping EDGE as the home for systemic change philanthropy.

EDGE has grown significantly in Europe since its inception two years ago, and the retreat was an important opportunity to welcome new members and discuss strategies to scale up the impact of systemic change grantmaking. The objective was “to change philanthropy by developing thinking and processes to challenge the sector and how we address diversity, power and privilege“.

Funding the Just Transition

Through the Movement Generation Just Transition Strategy Framework, a theory of change EDGE uses systematically, participants mapped which parts of the transition from an “extractive economy” to a “living economy” they fund, in order to identify funders active in the same field. While some foundations focus on “stopping the bad”, in particular fighting resources extractivism (15 funders), it seems that most EDGE members present concentrate their efforts on “changing the rules” (at international, national or local level) and “building the new” in its various dimensions (worldview, resources, work, purpose and governance). A number of EDGE members work on various areas at the same time.

Action sessions: “the next economy”, “commons & municipalism” and “shifting the power”

Most of the retreat was dedicated to “action sessions”, through which participants were invited to discuss ideas and strategies to change philanthropy. The topics of the sessions were based on participants’ interests (expressed through the registration form). Climate, gender and racial justice as well as the question of narratives and worldviews were addressed in a cross-cutting manner. The round table discussions resulted in numerous individual, bilateral and collective action points. Noteworthy proposals include exploring the potential of a high net worth individuals’ (HNWI) network for systemic change in Europe, a progressive funders ‘white book’ and grant-makers guide for the Just Transition and various session proposals for upcoming conferences, such as the Ariadne conference. EDGE remains also a space to discuss avant-garde progressive visions and strategies implemented by change agents, social movements, cultural activists and to explore how philanthropy can play a role in scaling them up.


Participants approved new “structural rules” for EDGE in Europe, and the composition of a new European Steering Group, now constituted as follows:

  • Amanda Gigler (Mama Cash)
  • Donal Macfhearraigh (OSIFE)
  • Eva Rehse (Global Greengrants Fund UK)
  • Ivan Juric (Guerrilla Foundation)
  • Maria Arenas Cabral (Calala Women’s Fund)
  • Matthias Fiedler (Bewegungsstiftung)
  • Nicolas Krausz (Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer)
  • Philippe Mayol (Fondation Terre Solidaire)
  • Vivian Paulissen (European Cultural Foundation).

A detailed report is available for members and participants in the retreat, and upon request by email to Tobias Troll (EDGE Europe).

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