About the conference

Taking place in Warsaw from 31 May – 2 June 2017, 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. Each 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. 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.

Discovering Warsaw

Rising from the flames of destruction at the end of World War II, Warsaw’s story is one of rebirth and resurrection to become one of Europe’s most diverse and intriguing cities. Delegates will be able to experience the city’s vibrant cultural and social landscape through networking events around town showcasing the work of Polish civil society. There will be also a gala dinner hosted by the Mayor of Warsaw in the Palace of Culture and Science – Stalin’s gift to the city. The conference itself will take place at the Hotel Bristol, seat of Prime Minister Ignacy Paderewski’s first Polish government after World War I, and the Hotel Victoria Sofitel – both situated in the city’s cultural and historic centre.

Theme: Courage to re-embrace solidarity in Europe – Can philanthropy take the lead?

There is no more apt location to discuss the conference theme than Poland – the cradle of the solidarity movement in Europe. The roundtable talks which took place in the presidential palace next to the Bristol Hotel led to free elections in June 1989 and provided a catalyst for anti-communist transitions in all other CEE countries (including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Prague).

Decades later, the need for such solidarity is evident once more. The biggest challenges institutional philanthropy faces, from climate change to migration to social justice, inequality and exclusion, all have one key element in common – they affect each and every one of us. Solidarity – working together to find solutions and forging a strong community of responsibility for these issues – is therefore of paramount importance if we are to get from where we are to where we want to be.

But this is easier said than done, and collaborating in the spirit of solidarity requires energy, openness and flexibility … but above all, courage. Courage to face the current challenges together head on; courage to include diverse players and partners (including those too often excluded from decision-making) and gain different perspectives; courage to take risks, to push boundaries and support innovative new ideas. Above all, courage to stick together and remain focused on our goals no matter what adversity is encountered along the way.

The 2017 EFC AGA and Conference will focus on the theme of ‘courage for solidarity’ and specifically how philanthropy should be involved in fostering, supporting and promoting it. It will offer a unique opportunity for delegates from around the world to reflect on their own work, learn from their peers, and discover how, by finding the courage to re-embrace solidarity, they can help shape a brighter future.


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 550-650 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 international organisations, academia and policymakers – are committed to developing sustainable and inclusive societies.

Keynote speakers

We are currently putting together the programme for the 2017 conference and, as in all our annual conferences, our keynote speakers will include high-level politicians, well-known civil society actors, and other leaders in various fields of endeavour. Past keynote speakers include HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland; Jan Gehl Hon. FAIA; Graça Machel DBE; 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.