Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe

Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe


What is the Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe?

The Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe is an intensive, peer-led leadership development programme that brings together 20 philanthropy professionals from China and Europe for a period of 8 days to enhance their leadership skills by sharing their knowledge, experience, creativity and concerns with each other. The programme challenges participants to:

  • Think creatively
  • Test out different tools and methodologies to think through issues and problems
  • Explore different leadership styles, emphasising the importance of self-awareness, emotional intelligence and an open mind
  • Reflect on change management
  • Value the power of collaboration; actively engage in problem solving; and gaining intercultural competence
  • Enhance cooperation between Chinese and European foundations

The aim is for participants to go back to their home organisations and contexts with new perspectives, tools and insights that will make them better leaders, and in turn enhance the impact of their organisations.

All costs except travel are covered by the organisers.

How is the programme structured?

The programme lasts a total of 8 days: 2 days for travel and 6 days for the programme activities. Participants engage in group and plenary interaction, and active exchange with high-level experts and leaders of institutions in the public, private and voluntary sectors. The programme is built on the following specific activities:

  • Group work on specific topics
  • Plenary discussions
  • Lectures and trainings
  • Intergroup workshops
  • Excursions to other foundations and non-profit organisations
  • Site visits to local philanthropy projects

To boost the sharing experience, each participant will be paired up throughout the programme with one of their intercontinental peers.

Building a strong and lasting network

The programme aims to strengthen the links between Chinese and European foundations, building a network that will last well beyond the programme. Participants are encouraged to keep in touch with each other, and the programme provides opportunities, both online and offline, for alumni to strengthen their connections.

Who is eligible?

This programme is open to those working for an EFC member organisation and have been working in the philanthropic sector for a minimum of 5 years to apply. Applicants should be fully committed to actively participating and engaging in the programme and respecting the confidentiality of other participants. The applicant’s organisation should fully support the applicant’s total participation for the duration of the programme. As the programme is conducted in English, the ability to work in English is essential.

When and where?

The programme takes place annually in September, and the location alternates between Europe and China, with a new set of participants, each year. Participants get the opportunity to visit locations within a two-hour travel range, as well as experience first-hand the work of philanthropy and NGOs locally.


Participants are responsible for covering the costs of travel to/from the programme location. All other costs associated with the programme will be covered by the organisers.

How to apply

Applicants must demonstrate the explicit support of their organisation’s management for their full participation in the programme.

To apply, fill in the attached application form and send it to Sevda Kilicalp by 1 June.

The selection process

The EFC and Stiftung Mercator make the selection of programme participants from the application pool. All applicants will be notified of the final selection by the end of May of each programme year.

About the organisers

The programme is funded by Stiftung Mercator and led by the EFC in partnership with China Global Philanthropy Institute.

Stiftung Mercator, an EFC member, is a private and independent foundation. Through its work it strives for a society characterised by openness to the world, solidarity and equal opportunities.

The European Foundation Centre is an association of philanthropic organisations with members from across Europe and the globe.

China Global Philanthropy Institute is a joint initiative of five Chinese and American philanthropists and aims to help strengthen China’s charity sector and to encourage international cooperation.

Additional information

Please address any questions you may have to Sevda Kilicalp.

What some PLP: China-Europe alumni have to say about the programme:

A wise man once said ‘in all your getting, get understanding’. PLP is a unique opportunity to gain cultural, philanthropic and peer understanding. Take it!

Neil van der Meer (2018 alumni)

Operations Director, Bernard Van Leer Foundation

The PLP programme was the best training I have attended during my work in philanthropy. Actually, it was more like a life experience which included gaining deep understanding of Chinese philanthropy, becoming friends with colleagues from different countries and sharing experiences in a warm and secure environment. I appreciate the openness of the participants and the commitment of the EFC team which created this mutual learning and sharing experience. I returned with a feeling of gratitude, and I’m hopeful because I met a brilliant group of young people who are working to make the world a better place.

Rana Kotan (2018 alumni)

Director of Programs and International Relations, Sabanci Foundation

Doing the right thing or doing things right, which comes first?’ This is the question I was asked when I was interviewed for the PLP 2018 programme in Beijing. I was a newcomer as I had stepped into the philanthropy sector just one year before. Same with my organisation, since we had just achieved official registration as a corporate foundation in the beginning of 2018. I was trained as a medical doctor, therefore when we come across healthcare related issues such as providing medical aid to orphaned children, we (thought we) knew exactly what we should do. However, when I had the opportunity of talking with peer colleagues from the other 19 foundations in China and Europe, I realised philanthropy is not just about delivering, but why you deliver. My own foundation is just one year old, however some of the European foundations are already hundreds of years old, which is an amazing fact. I hope my foundation could be as sustainable as the European ones though we are living in a changing society in China. Let us do the right thing.

Anna Zhao (2018 alumni)

Executive Director, United Foundation for China’s Health

After PLP I was feeling inspired by all the interesting talks nurturing critical sharpness and provoking us to come closer together to key contemporary trends and challenges of philanthropic leadership today. Speakers and participants embraced my curiosity. I also appreciated our timely and useful discussion. Finally I am full of gratitude to EFC staff who made this education a remarkable programme and event that still resonated as a compelling and knowledgeable resource and network of China-Europe philanthropic leaders to me.

Dea Vidović (2018 alumni)

Director, Kultura Nova Foundation

I believe that PLP programme was the most valuable and memorable studying experience I have been fortunate enough to be part of since graduating from university. It was a rare opportunity for me to learn, connect and share with a group of friends from across the world and the philanthropic sector, and a chance to learn more about the history of philanthropy, the similarities and differences of culture in China and Europe and a better understanding for project designing. The programme also gave me a platform to share my values and opinions of philanthropy and inspired me with the sparks of social innovation. I feel extremely lucky I was able to make friends with people who share the same values as me and wish to make the world a better place.

Liang Shuang (2019 alumni)

Senior Officer of Fundraising, China Charities Aid Foundation for Children (CCAFC)

‘’Vision, persistency, courage, self-awareness, empathy are the ingredients of healthy leadership”. “The greatest virtue is like water – humble, it can easily adapt, it can go down, and around obstacles”. “Refrain from jumping to conclusions, be reflective”. “Know/be/act: seek unity in your behaviour”. “One should look at a system as a whole. From problem solving, where the basic assumption is that an organisation is a problem to be solved, to appreciative inquiry, where the basic assumption is that an organization is a mystery to be embraced”. These are just some of the great thoughts - duly mixed with practical exercises and hands-on experiences that we exchanged with our European and Chinese colleagues over the week-long programme. I am really grateful to PLP and to the teams at EFC and CGPI for designing such a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary training programme. It was a great learning experience and I definitely recommend it to anyone working in the philanthropic sector who is committed to broadening their horizons and building bridges between Europe and China.

Nicolò Russo Perez (2019 alumni)

Coordinator of the International Affairs Program, Compagnia di San Paolo

The Philanthropic Leadership Platform: China-Europe is part of the EFC’s ongoing commitment to improving peer-learning and collaboration among its members, as outlined in the EFC Strategic Framework 2016-2022.

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