About the conference

 About the European Foundation Centre

The EFC is the platform for and champion of institutional philanthropy – with a focus on Europe, but also with an eye to the global philanthropic landscape.

We support our members, both individually and collectively, in their work to foster positive social change in Europe and beyond. Our European and global perspective on institutional philanthropy and the landscape it inhabits gives us a “helicopter view” that presents a unique opportunity for us as an organisation, hand in hand with our members, to reflect on, understand, engage with and together strengthen the environment for philanthropy.

Established in 1989 by 7 foundations, the EFC now represents more than 200 philanthropic organisations, including foundations and corporate funders.


About the EFC Annual General Assembly (AGA) & Conference

The EFC’s AGA and Conference is the largest international conference in philanthropy, engaging the European and global philanthropy sector to grapple with deep societal issues. It offers a unique opportunity for philanthropic actors with an international outlook to meet with their peers, exchange know-how and experience, test new ideas, and form partnerships. Delegates benefit from the experience and insights of top-level keynote speakers who frame current topics and trends, and open up debate on institutional philanthropy’s role in these issues.

Who attends?

Our conferences attract the heads and senior management of major philanthropic organisations from across Europe and the world, along with key programme staff. Equally, representatives of smaller philanthropic organisations with an international outreach benefit from the event. Each year, around 550-700 delegates attend the conference.

This diverse group of participants – the majority representing either funding and operating foundations or hybrids of the two; and corporate funders, but also INGOs, academia and policymakers – are committed to developing sustainable and inclusive societies.

What is the thematic content of the conference?

The conference addresses societal issues that are relevant to the future of Europe and the world at large, such as inequality, social injustice, and inclusive and participatory societies. Each year an overarching theme is chosen that provides a lens through which to view current issues as well as the various areas that philanthropy works in – from gender to ageing to urban development to research, to name just a few. The highly interactive debates and discussions aim to expose best practices on proven solutions and innovative approaches.

Who are the keynote speakers?

Keynote speakers include high-level politicians, well-known civil society actors, members of the royal families from the host countries, and other leaders in various fields of endeavour. Past keynote speakers include Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland; Professor Jerzy Buzek, former Prime Minister of Poland and President of the European Parliament; internationally known BBC journalist Lyse Doucet, OBE; Recep Tyyip Erdogan, President of Turkey; Jan Gehl Hon. FAIA; HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands; Graça Machel DBE; Kumi Naidoo; Giorgio Napolitano, OMRI, former President of the Republic of Italy; the Honourable Albie Sachs, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; Aníbal Cavaco Silva, former President of Portugal; and Herman Van Rompuy; former Prime Minister of Belgium and former President of the European Council.

What are the benefits for local foundations and corporate funders in the host countries?

Hosting an EFC AGA and Conference is an excellent opportunity to give visibility to local philanthropy while strengthening connections with the broader European and global philanthropic landscape. The conference brings European and global philanthropy to your doorstep, and opens new pathways for thinking, operating and collaborating for philanthropic organisations based in the host country. The networking, peer exchange, and partnering potential of this conference is unparalleled.

A sample of past AGA & Conferences – Themes and participant numbers

  • 2017 Warsaw – Courage to re-embrace solidarity in Europe – Can philanthropy take the lead? (605 participants)
  • 2016 Amsterdam – Imagining and investing in our future (666 participants)
  • 2015 Milan – Philanthropy: Visions and Energy for Change (631 participants)
  • 2014 Sarajevo – Rethinking Europe: Solidarity, Civil Society and Political Governance (478 participants)
  • 2012 Belfast – Peace through Social Justice: A Role for Foundations? (551 participants)
  • 2011 Cascais – Resources and Sustainability – The Ocean (595 participants)

A united voice – foundations standing together in solidarity

At every EFC annual conference, the world of institutional philanthropy comes together and works in solidarity on the current pressing issues.  Below are some recent examples.

Warsaw Declaration: Philanthropic Alliance for Solidarity and Democracy in Europe

A diverse group of foundations concerned with the state of democracy in Europe came together at the 2017 EFC AGA and Conference, which gathered over 600 participants in Warsaw, to launch a Philanthropic Alliance for Solidarity and Democracy in Europe. Pooling together broad-based, diverse philanthropic resources the Alliance will fund initiatives aimed at strengthening civil society and safeguarding democratic values in Europe. Initiating this alliance in Poland – the cradle of the solidarity movement in Europe – demonstrates the ability of the European and international philanthropic community to join forces to bolster solidarity across Europe.


666 representatives from the world of philanthropy, gathered at the European Foundation Centre’s Annual Conference on 26-28 May in Amsterdam, issued a call to action to their peers urging them to join forces to tackle forced migration, one of today’s greatest challenges. The statement called for a united response to addressing the human tragedy and challenges presented by the millions of people being forced to leave their homes and countries, due to violence, persecution, war, the effects of climate change and economic inequality.

  • Joint Statement on ‘Unaccompanied minors’
    During the 2015 EFC AGA and Conference which gathered 631participants, Fondazione Cariplo and Compagnia di San Paolo joined forces with a group of several EFC members to support unaccompanied minors arriving in Europe, looking beyond emergency measures to their long-term welfare and inclusion. Unaccompanied minors who make it to Europe find themselves exposed to countless potential dangers including trafficking, hunger, health issues, and denial of their human rights when placed in detention. These minors have a valuable part to play in their new communities, an opportunity often overlooked.
  • Flood relief campaign, Sarajevo
    From 15th to 17th of May 2014 in Sarajevo, Mozaik Foundation hosted the European Foundation Centre’s AGA and Conference. Over 500 participants talked about solidarity, civil society and political governance. At the same time, 70 kilometres from the conference venue, the Rivers Bosna, Drina, Sana, Sava, Vrbas and others burst their banks and caused terrible damage and loss of human lives, homes, livestock, and even to entire villages. 270,000 euros were raised by delegates towards the rebuilding projects in the aftermath.
  • Joint Statement on ‘European Foundations express their solidarity with Ukraine’
    Over 500 foundations and other philanthropic actors gathered in Sarajevo during the aforementioned AGA and Conference in 2014 to reflect on the theme of Rethinking Europe: Solidarity, Civil Society and Political Governance. While debating the challenges and needs of the European community, the EFC and conference delegates released a joint statement expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people and civil society and called for an urgent resolution to the current crisis through dialogue and reconciliation.