Compass Prize

The EFC Compass Prize recognises outstanding contributions to, and ongoing support for, the development of the European philanthropic sector. The Compass pays tribute to the pioneers, navigators and visionaries who have broken the mould of European philanthropy, both through their relationship with the EFC as well as with their peers. Some of the most valuable contributors operate in a behind-the-scenes manner, quietly and diligently working to build the European foundation community.

The Compass seeks to bring these contributions to the forefront, celebrating those whose exemplary work may otherwise stay under the radar. The Prize is awarded only in special circumstances rather than on a regular basis. The EFC Management Committee determines when the prize is awarded, and to whom.

2019 – Sara Llewellin

The 5th EFC Compass Prize was awarded to Sara Llewellin, the Chief Executive of the Barrow Cadbury Trust, during the Closing Plenary of the 30th EFC Annual General Assembly and Conference, in Paris, 2019.

Sara, the first ever woman to win the prize, was recognised for her prominent work not just for Barrow Cadbury, but for the EFC and wider philanthropic sector in Europe. The award pays tribute to Sara’s lifetime work and the means by which she embodies the qualities and values that are at the root of the organisation she leads: speaking truth to power and striving for collaboration, engagement, independence and innovation.

Read more on Sara Llewellin’s award.

2015 – Pier Mario Vello

The 4th EFC Compass Prize was awarded posthumously to the late Pier Mario Vello, former Secretary General of Fondazione Cariplo, during the Opening Plenary of the EFC’s 26th AGA and Conference in Milan.

Pier Mario was not only an outstanding visionary and thinker, he was also the man responsible for this year’s conference taking place in Milan. A video tribute was shown during the Plenary, where former colleagues paid tribute to Pier Mario’s many achievements and virtues. The Prize was accepted on his behalf by his wife.

2013 – Rien van Gendt

For anyone who has had the privilege of working with Dr van Gendt in the Netherlands, across Europe, or in connection with his international efforts, the choice to award him this third edition of the EFC Compass Prize will seem both obvious and deeply deserved. While it is somewhat perfunctory to state, his contributions to countless organisations and numerous board commitments have ensured that Dr van Gendt’s unique touch has been felt particularly widely. Especially in the areas of investments, international cooperation, good governance, and transparency and accountability, to name but a few, Dr van Gendt has not only been a leader, but has thoughtfully encouraged those around him to improve their practice and strive for better results. His dedication to the strengthening of support organisations such as the EFC, Vereniging van Fondsen in Nederland (FIN), and Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) has also been unparalleled. As an early supporter and architect of the EFC Principles of Good Practice, and the first Chair of the EFC Nomination Committee, established in 2007 as part of the EFC’s governance review, Dr van Gendt’s role in the successful and positive evolution of the Centre’s governance structure has been fundamental.

Watch Rien van Gendt’s acceptance speech

2011 – Francis Charhon

The second Compass Prize was awarded to Mr Francis Charhon, a key figure in the European foundation community since he joined the Fondation de France in 1992. During the prize ceremony, Mr Luc Tayart de Borms of the King Baudouin Foundation emphasised Mr Charhon’s critical contributions to the EFC as a Management Committee member from 1992 to 2011, and specifically as EFC Chair from 1995 to 1997. Mr Charhon’s steadfast belief in the European project, and dedication to the Centre’s representation work at the EU level has been invaluable. Speaking directly to Mr Charhon, Mr Tayart de Borms said, “You are one of those who have made the EFC what it is today.”

In accepting the prize, Mr Charhon stressed three key focus areas for foundations going forward: reinforcing the role of the EFC and the national-level associations of donors and foundations; continuing the work on the European Foundation Statute; and being open, clear and transparent about the work they as foundations do and how they do it. He thanked the colleagues and partners he has worked with over the years: “If I’ve done what I’ve done, it’s because I was not alone.”

Watch an interview with Mr Charhon

2009 – William S. White

Mr William S. White received the first ever EFC Compass Prize for his unending commitment to building the philanthropic infrastructure in Europe, particularly through the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s work in Central and Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, in his acceptance speech he reflected on the walls — real and imagined — that can separate people, and the important role philanthropy can play in bridging those divides and creating a more civil society.

Since the EFC’s founding in 1989, the Mott Foundation has been a consistent and generous supporter to the Centre, in terms of financial contributions but also in terms of time and ideas. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, under Mr White’s direction, has certainly left an indelible impact across the foundation sector in Europe through their long-term programming, strategic funding and moral support. The EFC, like many other institutions, wouldn’t be the organisation it is today without this thoughtful leadership.

Watch the prize-giving ceremony and an interview with Mr White

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