Participant Testimonials

At the conclusion of WINGSForum, it was clear that participants had found value and strength, not only in the event itself but in WINGS as a network. We invite you to hear these impressions directly from the attendees themselves; below, you will find a selection of testimonials received by WINGS as a result of our time in Istanbul.

Are you a WINGSForum participant with feedback to share? If so, please contact Jane Mayer at!


‘As a newcomer to WINGS at my first Forum, there are lots of insights and inputs that I can take back to my work in Italy and I really appreciate the different methodologies – the fishbowl debate was great and the plenary sessions alternating with the concurrent sessions and the networking opportunities. The fishbowl debate was the highlight for me.’ – Carola Carazzone, Associazione Italiana Fondazioni e Enti di Erogazi (ASSIFERO), Italy


‘We always look forward to WINGSForum because it’s the gathering where we meet those who are in positions similar to ours, and we hardly see ourselves in that position in our countries. WINGS is the main source of broader analysis on trends and challenges for the philanthropic sector as a whole, globally. I expect to be inspired and make use of this knowledge to think about GIFE’s role in our own context; WINGS is the main reference for that.’ – Andre Degenszajn, Grupo de Institutos, Fundações e Empresas (GIFE), Brazil


‘WINGS provides an important venue through which each of our associations, which operate in different cultural contexts and represent diverse types of members and funding interests, can share successful strategies and lessons learned about contributing to structural change.’ – Christen Dobson, International Human Rights Funders Group, United States


‘The most interesting session was about how to build endowments from privatization. It’s difficult for people like some of us who have always thought that the state should solve the problems of society, but privatization is happening so civil society has to be there in the negotiations and has to have access to that money because the money comes from civil society.’ – Amalia Fischer, ELAS Fundo de Investimento Social, Brazil


‘It’s my first time at WINGS, but I don’t feel out of it, or a visitor, I feel so connected, welcome and at home. Through the years in the sector I’ve met so many of my colleagues and they became friends and they’re all here. It’s all-embracing. Solidarity is such a supportive mechanism and once again the repository of information on networks left me feeling buoyant and sustained by hope.  It’s also giving us the space to think, to reflect.’ – Beulah Fredericks, Southern African Community Grant Makers Forum, South Africa


‘I feel lucky to be here. I only attended half of the previous WINGSForum, so I didn’t feel the full dynamic of the meeting, because by the time I got there it had already started. Here I felt everything from the preparation. WINGS has given its members an opportunity to be part of that preparation. What happens over these three days goes back many months. I have also experienced excitement over the growing number of participants. Peers around the world were understanding how important this was. I’ve attended incredibly interesting sessions—practical, from the viewpoint of what we do on a daily basis, but also sessions that dealt a lot with vision, and that is the best part of this meeting. And of course the opportunity to meet with people and talk about issues.’ – Rosa Gallego Garcia, Spanish Association of Foundations (AFE); Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE), Spain


‘The thing that I’ve loved the most is the people here. It’s a remarkable gathering of individuals; everyone that should be here, is here, and there are massive amounts of knowledge and ideas and experience in the room. I think the work that WINGS is doing around measuring the sector is really critical and I’m very glad to see that at work. I think the people and the conversations have been generally good and we’re off to a great start. From the perspective of participant experience I think WINGS has hit a home run.’ – John Harvey, Independent Philanthropy Professional, United States


‘The topics that have been covered are really relevant to my areas of work. When I go back to my foundation in Africa, I will be able to look at its work holistically in the context of the way the world is now. I particularly enjoyed the session on the implementing of a university programme on philanthropy. I think it is well timed. It is something that should have come a long time ago and we should have a course in our universities to deal with philanthropy.’ – Anthony Igecha, KenGen Foundation, Kenya


‘It was a very good chance for networking, meeting people from different parts of the world, looking at all the challenges and seeing how foundations are finding a way around them. At a time when individualism is so important, everyone has a different idea for social change, social entrepreneurship is rising, but we also understand that we can’t do anything without partnering with others. The Forum has allowed me to think about different methods of partnership and collaboration. It also underlines the importance of infrastructure … without strong infrastructure, we cannot strengthen civil society.’ – Sevda Kilicalp, Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV), Turkey



‘As a new member, I thought it was incisive, provocative. There were new voices coming in public. What I also enjoyed was that it was very interactive.’ – Firoz Ladak, Edmond de Rothschild Foundations, Switzerland


‘I’m here with all my members but one. We’re enjoying this for many reasons, mainly networking with people and organizations we don’t see so often in Brazil. It’s also good to see where the themes in philanthropy are moving, what the discussions are, what is included in this universe of philanthropy internationally – and to situate within that where our network is going. And we’re fine where we are, I think.’ – Cindy Lessa, Network of Independent Funds for Social Justice, Brazil


‘It’s an amazing and unique gathering. As an association of associations, or a federation, there’s no other place on the planet where I can come and learn from my peers. I have two peers, WINGS and DAFNE. I have learned to call us the DAFNE of America. One takeaway: the commonality of needs around the world despite all the differences and the different cultures and the different stages of economic development. As associations, we all have common challenges and I think we’re going to try to collaborate a lot more.’ – Michael Litz, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, United States


‘I’ve loved the conference. It’s always refreshing to get perspectives from peers from around the world. The delegates are amazing; there are people from absolutely every corner of the globe, and it gives you insights you don’t get when you’re talking to people from your own country.’ – Carol Mack, Association of Charitable Foundations, United Kingdom


‘Everybody wants what we see around us in this conference. Everybody wants to be a part of this global movement. This is perhaps the most exciting conference I’ve attended in many years, simply because there’s a sense of anticipation that we’re on the verge of breaking through a lot of old silos that have existed for a long time in the field, and that we’re finally recognizing that if we come together at the level of broad principles and the desire to be transparent, to the extent that it’s possible across different regions, that we’re in a moment of time when we can take advantage of networking technologies to make something happen that makes philanthropy much more effective in the way that we’ve never had the possibility before; and I think everyone senses that at this conference. Just as we’ve seen this conference jump in attendance since 2010 I expect that kind of growth and excitement to continue to build over the next period of time before the next conference. In my opinion WINGS has finally taken off.’ – Larry McGill, The Foundation Center, United States


‘The morning session introduced today the very big issue of grantmaking. I think we should still reinforce the idea of grantmaking as a tool for development, which at least in Eastern Europe has somehow disappeared because of EU accession and the lack of funds for grants for small organizations. This was my first time at WINGS and for me it was a great start for thinking and discussion.’ – Ilyana Nikolova, Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation, Bulgaria


‘WINGS reminded me – once again – of the range of national environments for philanthropy, at the same time as highlighting our common ground and shared challenges.  Learning from colleagues around the globe has certainly given me ideas to apply to our funding programmes in the future and a host of new contacts to inform our thinking.’ – David Sampson, Baring Foundation, United Kingdom 


‘I come here and look at the list of participants and this is a complete picture. These are those who are working in the space to support the space, to support the infrastructure, support the advocacy in the policy dimensions of it. The convening itself is very good, as well as any research that can be done within the membership and beyond. And that linking of who’s doing what to make sure there’s no duplication, I think, is extremely important. It’s a very worthwhile venture, and there’s going to be an incredible amount of movement in this space in the coming years.’ – David Schwartz, International Development Research Centre, Canada


‘It’s exceptional, really excellent. This is my first time, and for me it’s been so helpful because in Bulgaria, representing the largest foundation, we don’t really have peers; as a manager, I don’t have a peer to compare with, so this has been an incredible learning opportunity and a chance to meet colleagues. We are a foundation not an association but it has been helpful in many aspects.’ – Desi Taliokova, America for Bulgaria Foundation, Bulgaria