(By Hadiel Holail Mohamed) The 2023 EDGE Funders Conference took place in Berlin, Germany from October 18-20. EDGE Funders Alliance is a global community of 300+ donors, foundation officers, trustees and advisors with a shared belief that equity and justice are critical to furthering sustainable, global well-being.
This latest conference, titled, ‘Funding boldly: Systemic change and Alternatives’, brought together funders and movements, organisers and activists from all over the globe.
The Leap team was grateful to be present at the event. As a team that mostly works remotely, it was great to be physically together and feel the team spirit. We had Ann Marie coming from Spain, Flaviano from Italy, Martin and Romy from Germany and myself from Belgium. Tatiana couldn’t make it, unfortunately, having already recently returned to Colombia.
For some of us, it was the first time to meet in person, and it felt a bit like a homecoming for the Leap team.
For some of us, it was also the first time to discover the EDGE community. Coming from Belgium where the philanthropic community focused on funding systemic change is rather small, sharing space with this existing, worldwide community gave us a strong sense of hope.
The entire Leap team felt empowered to be among so many people who’ve been involved in the philanthropic sector for years, and who also share the same vision of wanting to disrupt, decolonize, and ultimately, dismantle philanthropy.
The conference coincided with the start of the genocide going on in Palestine. Having Palestinian people and the Rawa fund present at the conference brought systemic injustices very close, and the urgency to decolonise philanthropy felt all the more tangible.
Strong, vulnerable calls came from individuals who felt moved to take to the stage and speak up about the urgency to act, advocate and speak to the link between all oppressed peoples. This created a dynamic of solidarity and an unapologetic, stark call to urgently move to decolonise philanthropy right there and then. Funders are continuing to organise in the aftermath of the conference, deciding how to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and push for an immediate ceasefire and continue support in these very difficult circumstances.
This conference was also special for Leap for another reason. As you may have read in earlier blog posts, Leap wants to systemically change philanthropy. We do this by designing and co- facilitating experiments that aim to demonstrate how philanthropy can be done in a just and transformative way. For example, the Climate Justice experiment began its process in October 2021. Leap brought together a group of climate justice actors from around Europe, with the goal of developing a space for experimentation between activists and funders to explore what is most needed to push a transformative climate justice agenda in Europe. This experimentation process is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation.
Following a year of research and mapping more than 100 European climate justice groups, Collective Abundance (as the Leap Climate Justice project has recently re-branded) launched a participatory regranting fund at this Edge Conference. Collective Abundance began in Spain, will continue in Poland, and the third country is presently being discussed. The Abundance Fund is raising 5 million euros for the next five years to support grassroots movements working on climate justice.
It was very nice to have everybody in the same room to present and celebrate the launch of Collective Abundance at Edge, activists, funders, fiscal hosts, Leaple… Thank you Samie!
We will share more about our learnings from this climate justice experiment, henceforth called Collective Abundance.