Press release: EFC Conference with a difference 2020 event addresses Climate I Democracy I Society I Philanthropy


Brussels, 18 February 2020 – The European Foundation Centre unveils the programme for its 31st Annual Conference to take place in the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center in Vienna on 20-22 May 2020.

The last decade has seen momentous changes as well as gradual developments in Europe that have deeply altered the contexts – economic, political, societal and environmental – in which philanthropy carries out its activities. These changing contexts have brought about a ‘New Normal’.

“We are excited to welcome over 650 participants to Vienna to discuss why and how foundations matter today in the ‘New Normal’, said Franz Karl Prüller of ERSTE Foundation who is this year’s Conference Chair. “’The ‘New Normal’ challenges our vision of open, democratic, liberal and caring societies in Europe and beyond. Philanthropy must open up new, creative and transparent ways to meet this challenge. This is the conference to discuss how we can make this happen.”

A brand new format will be used to generate and harvest the best ideas and practices to tackle the challenges of the New Normal in light of the changed contexts in which we find ourselves.  Instead of the usual series of sessions, the discussions will be focused within 4 broad tracks dealing with the key and most urgent issues facing society and the community of philanthropic foundations: Climate, Democracy, Society and Philanthropy. The tracks will be moderated by 4 experts who are widely recognised in these fields: Elizabeth McKeon, Mary Fitzgerald, Claire Boulanger and Lucy Bernholz.  Each track will consider a variety of cross-cutting themes including culture, digital agenda, education and civic engagement. The 4 tracks will run parallel throughout the conference, culminating in one (or more) pathway(s) forward for how the philanthropic sector can work (better) in future. Participants can follow one track from beginning to end, or alternate between them.

Also new this year are a special Viennese version of the conference site visits, Coffee House Talks. For centuries people have made visiting the numerous coffee houses around the city a key part of their daily routine, a place where they meet to discover, discuss, and deliberate the topical issues of the day over a traditional ‘melange’ (cappuccino).  It is such an integral and historic part of life that the Viennese coffee house culture has been officially included on the UNESCO list of national Intangible Cultural Heritage. Participants will have their opportunity to experience this tradition and explore the critical issues of the conference, meet the experts and, in many cases, visit local projects and landmarks.

During the EFC Annual General Assembly which takes place on the last day of the Conference, two important announcements will be made: the new EFC Chief Executive, who will replace Gerry Salole who will retire later this year and the new EFC Chair, who will be replace Massimo Lapucci as his 3 year mandate ends in May.

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