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The 3rd edition of the Philea Forum in Ghent advocates the importance of building trust for the success of foundations, democracies and their institutions

The Philea Forum 2024, held in Ghent on 27, 28 and 29 May, brought together the main social actors in philanthropy and, in its 3rd edition, organised by the European Philanthropy Association and a group of Belgian foundations chaired by the King Baudouin Foundation (KBF), managed to bring together 780 participants.

The Forum was a space for dialogue where participants were able to share their experiences and strategies in the field of philanthropy, offering solutions to problems, including the lack of trust in democracy, in institutions and between generations.

Brieuc Van Damme, CEO of KBF, in the opening plenary session of the forum indicated that the licence of philanthropy is based on a precondition: “to be effective agents of social transformation, foundations need to build trust, and gain the support and commitment of stakeholders and society as a whole”.

The director commented that trust, which is at the heart of the Congress motto, “implies not only actively listening to society, but also designing and implementing inclusive and collective mechanisms at all levels of action. A decisive factor in the success (or failure) of foundations as pluralistic organisations is their convening power”.

Historian, author and activist Rutger Bregman urged philanthropic organisations to prioritise action over awareness by adopting the mindset of “moral ambition”, which he defined as “the ambition of an entrepreneur combined with the passion of an activist”.

He also emphasised the need for philanthropy to focus on issues neglected by the rest of society, as these are the areas where foundations can have the greatest impact today.

During the forum, round tables and panels were held, such as “Reflections of Critical Friends”, moderated by Rhodri Davies, founder and director of Why Philanthropy Matters.

In these spaces, speakers shared their aspirations and key findings on the sector around the theme of trust, but also addressed other topics such as mental health, youth empowerment and sustainable cities.

“Philanthropy has tremendous potential to contribute to restoring trust,” said Delphine Moralis, executive director of Philea, adding that the sector “can contribute solutions in many ways, from systemic change approaches to targeted and innovative interventions.”

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CIRIEC-International CIRIEC-España Social Economy Europe Ministerio de Trabajo y Economía Social Unión Europea