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philanthropy and  the new economy

THURSDAY,  20 MAY, 2021

In the midst of multiple global crises - environmental collapse, rising inequality, as well as the pandemic - our reliance on flawed economic models and thinking has come into question. Whether this is the pursuit of profit at the expense of environmental or human rights costs; relying on GDP as a decisive indicator of economic success; and unregulated economic growth by a small number of global companies.

At the same time, we are seeing an emergence of new and innovative economic models that blend the boundary between nonprofit and for-profit organisations; integrate social value as part of core business; or find new and exciting models for a green economy. At this critical juncture, which economic models might serve society and the environment better? And what is the role of philanthropy in imagining and implementing them?

On May 20, as part of #WINGSForum2021, we brought together a diverse group of expert speakers to begin this journey of exploring new economic models and thinking, and how philanthropic organisations can help push this agenda forward.


philanthropy and  the digital revolution


As a society, we are in the middle of a digital revolution. All aspects of our lives and institutions are being transformed at a rapid pace, yet much of this happens without the voice of citizens or civil society. There is now an urgent need to explore what the digital transition entails, who is shaping it and how we can participate and influence its outcomes to benefit society at large.

For all the wonders of the digital revolution, there are serious questions around ownership, governance, privacy, inclusivity, and a lack of data rights. There are broader questions too, about the impact of highly digitised societies on our jobs, mental health, and the strength of our democracies. What does the advance of technology mean for civilisation as we know it? Where and how can civil society ensure that people and human rights lie at the centre of the digital transition?

As part of our online WINGSForum Virtual Summit series, on 18 February 2021, we welcomed a group of thought leaders to discuss and debate the role of philanthropy in the digital revolution. This event was followed by exclusive workshops for WINGS members. Find out more below.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2020

Multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

As well as our WINGSForum moving online until we can meet in person in Nairobi in 2021, the WINGSForum pre-event took place virtually in September 2020, alongside the UN General Assembly.


There are ten years left to reach the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, established in 2015. The SDGs provide a common framework and language for not only the philanthropic sector but all sectors to coordinate around in order to pursue social and environmental justice.  At the current rate, unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that any country will meet all of the SDGs by 2030. However, cross-sector collaboration on the SDGs and the potential role for philanthropy to expedite their attainment has not yet been realised.


For this invite-only event, we brought together 80+ leaders to hear from an expert panel of thought leaders and share their own ideas about the topic in an interactive discussion.


The event kicked off with a keynote speech from Ulrika Modéer, Assistant Secretary-General, and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy (BERA), UNDP. This was followed by a panel conversation moderated by Lauren Bradford. Speakers included representatives from across sectors and around the world:

  • Peter Laugharn, President & CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

  • Mr. Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development 

  • Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

  • Àngel Font, Corporate Director of Research and Strategy, La Caixa Foundation and Chair, European Foundation Centre

  • Oksana Oracheva, CEO, Vladimir Potanin Foundation

  • Yanti Triwadiantini, Chair, Asean CSR Network and Board Member, Indonesia Business Links

This event connects to WINGS’ work as part of the SDGPP in partnership with the UNDP, as well as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.



Power and the Role of Philanthropy


For far too long, power has existed within a top-down paradigm. Now, we see shifts towards more distributed models that root agency in individuals and groups of changemakers. In the wake of Covid-19, governments have exercised an increased use of central power while communities are illustrating the incredible potential of resilient organisations and local action. As we confront the long-term impact of the current crisis on the power distribution in society, we must seize the opportunity this crisis creates. We must rethink the way power is leveraged and distributed, first within the philanthropic sector, then with other actors of social change. The Covid-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to explore the limited adaptations in power distribution, the alternative and innovative ways to shift power dynamics and harness unrecognized power for social justice and the greater good. 


On 24 November we welcomed a panel of voices from all sides of philanthropy, including the co-author of the international bestseller ‘New Power’, and leaders in community activism as well as corporate philanthropy. They discussed and debated how power plays out in the philanthropic and nonprofit world, and what the strategies and practices are that can begin to shift these dynamics.  





Alongside the plenary event, we held exclusive workshops for the WINGS members. These brought together small groups of our network from around the world to have an intimate and challenging conversation about where to start with changing practice in order to shift power dynamics in philanthropy.



WINGS is 20! This is a time for great celebration and deep reflection. We have had many successes together, perhaps more than we might have imagined just 20-years ago. At the same time, the promises we made to the world — and each other — when our organisation was first conceived have become more important than we might have imagined, as well. WINGS is the same organisation that you have always known, deeply rooted in the same mission and vision that created Worldwide Initiatives In Grantmaker Support 20 years ago. But an organisation that is ready to rise. A new look and an expanded vision - both updated to reflect changing times.

For more information or to discuss any questions you might have, contact us at

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