The autumn meeting of the Operations Professionals Network (OPN) meeting took place at Philanthropy House, Brussels on the 3rd and 4th December 2018 and provided its 44 participants, from 14 EFC member organisations, the opportunity to discuss a range of subjects on operational, legal, IT, HR, and finance matters.

These discussions, on topics such as the role of AI in philanthropy, took place in a variety of formats so as to maximise engagement and peer learning opportunities, with at times the participants being divided into small groups with their professional peers, and at other times coming together to openly discuss the major issues at hand, such as the aforementioned role of AI in philanthropy.

These talks enabled the participants to openly engage and discuss the matters at hand with their peers, and experts in the relevant fields, so as to better develop an understanding and learn from each other’s experience. 

The first day saw the network discussing within their professional groups; legal, HR, IT and finance, a variety of topical issues impacting their departments and the philanthropic sector as a whole. These peer-to-peer exchanges provided the groups the opportunity to learn from each other about different methods and initiatives they are utilising, but also problems they are facing and was an opportunity to network with professional peers from within the sector.

The main discussion point of the day was the role of AI in philanthropy introduced by Rhodri Davies, of the Charities Aid Foundation, who delivered an eye-opening plenary session on the positive and negative impacts of AI usage, and the operating environment of AI in civil society. 

The second day followed the pattern of the previous day with small peer-to-peer deliberations on topics such as cloud and cyber-security, professional training packages, and bench-marking financial performances. The main plenary session of the day featured Matthias Spielkamp, founder of AlgorithmWatch, and drew on the previous day’s plenary to deliver a guide on the processes of auditing algorithms, and the impactful work of his organisation.

The plenary elicited details of their most recent campaign, OpenSCHUFA, which is seeking to better understand the credit scoring system of the major German credit scoring organisation SCHUFA, and ensure it is working in a fair, unbiased manner, with some sort of oversight. Mr Spielkamp’s work provided yet another eye-opening and insightful exchange for the OPN participants to engage with.

For more information on the OPN or their next meeting please contact Stefanos Oikonomou.


The Operations Professionals Network is part of the EFC’s ongoing commitment to improving peer-learning and collaboration among its members. For more information on the EFC’s seven key priorities, please download the EFC Strategic Framework 2016-2022