From ego-systems to eco-systems: reimagining resilient philanthropy for social change

Over 30 philanthropy practitioners from Central and South East Europe gathered between 4 – 7 June in Sibiu, Romania for an exploratory conversation on “Forward-looking eco-systems of philanthropy support.”

The conversations were grounded in local, national and international experiences and contexts, and the meeting also sought to explore some of connections and learnings that can emerge “in between.” Some of the main themes that emerged were around the connection between philanthropy and social change, moving beyond individual organizational viewpoints and definitions, and introducing a systems lens when it comes to the role and practice of philanthropy support organizations.

Making connections in Sibiu

The event explored the space for change in how philanthropy fields are supported, with an emphasis on horizontal relations, sharing power, building trust, understanding the needs and perspectives of partners. It called for flexibility and adaptability, avoiding over-reliance on one model and challenging fixed assumptions and, instead, keeping spaces open for new ideas, new actors and new ways of doing things to emerge, while taking a long-term view and a pace that allows the field to respond. It also explored the role of networks and the importance of relationships that should be allowed to change as the field evolves and capacities are developed more broadly, with a need for continuous update of perspective and mental models based on what happens in real life.

The event was part of the Initiative for Strategic Philanthropy and Intelligent Resources in Central and Eastern Europe (INSPIRE) and co-designed by the Association for the Practice of Transformation (APT), the Association for Community Relationsand Sibiu Community Foundation. It was based on participants’ learning from practice and inquiry and benefited from the experience European and global partners.

By: Alina Porumb, INSPIRE

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