Inducing positive systemic change : how to conceive our philanthropic strategies?

This sixth meeting held on 2 and 3 June 2016 at the Philanthropy House in Brussels and has been facilitated by Stephen Pittam (Chair of the Global Greengrants Fund – UK/Europe & Trustee of the Polden Puckham Charitable Foundation; former Trust Secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT).

The aim of the round table was to encourage foundations to think strategically about how to induce systemic change as a foundation, looking at ways of helping to solve some of society's major problems on the path towards sustainable society.

As foundations, we all have our own unique DNA (history, values, peoples…). We can however share and question our respective perspectives on soci(et)al change and the impact of our work, framing long-term goals and choosing key 'intervention modes'. What about 'theories of change' (as a methodology for planning and evaluating our philanthropic action to promote societal change), alongside other contrasting approaches?

Four speakers will share their experience on strategic thinking about systemic change and possible intervention methods :

  • Lisa Jordan, Senior Director Strategy and Learning at Porticus (NL)

Lisa Jordan has joined Porticus in September 2014, in the position of Senior Director of Strategy and Learning. Before joining Porticus, she was Executive Director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation. In this position she oversaw programmes and operations that impact over a million disadvantaged young children every year. She has worked on strengthening democracy and civil society through positions with NGOs, governments and private philanthropic foundations for twenty years.

  • Avila Kilmurray, Director of policy and strategy, Global Fund for Community Foundations (UK)

Avila Kilmurray is currently a consultant on migrant/refugee and peacebuilding issues with the Social Change Initiative based in Belfast. Avila was Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (1994-2014), during which period she supported social activism, peacebuilding and women's issues across Northern Ireland, including work on the re-integration of political ex-prisoners and victims/survivors of violence. Over the period 2014-2016, Avila was employed as Director - Policy and Strategy with the Global Fund for Community Foundations.

  • Nathan Argent, Climate Change Programme Officer Europe/US at Oak Foundation (CH)

Oak Foundation addresses issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged, through an array of programmes and intervention modes. Its global philanthropic strategy will be introduced by Nathan Argent, currently Programme Officer on Climate Change for Europe and North America at Oak Foundation. He manages, monitors and leads in particular the evaluation processes for Oak's climate and energy portfolio of projects in Europe and North America.

  • Florence Miller, Director, Environmental Funders Network (UK)

The Environmental Funders Network has conducted a survey and a retreat investigating the various theories of change of its members. Florence will bring us highlights from this collaborative work that she coordinated. Before joining the Environmental Funders Network, she worked in the U.S., where she managed the TogetherGreen Innovation Grants program for National Audubon Society, channelling funding to groups working with diverse communities to improve the environment.