Queen Mathilde of Belgium spoke out in praise of philanthropy and the need for collaborative working to effect real change in her opening speech for the Boost Philanthropy in Europe conference last month.


The event marked the official closing of the Spring of Philanthropy, which was organised by the King Badouin Foundation and ran from 27 April to 12 May 2017.


Queen Mathilde spoke in her role as Honorary President of the King Baudouin Foundation and drew attention to the importance of philanthropy in creating opportunities for everyone in today’s society, calling the conference ‘an important and timely initiative’.


She said: “Our society is rocked by problems, the size and complexity of which risk creating polarisation and insularity. The very notion of ‘living together’ is often called into question. In this context, the various actors in civil society have a key role to play, and the philanthropists among them are essential.”


The Queen also drew attention to the role of philanthropists in coming up with new solutions to challenges through conducting pilot studies, testing ideas, and funding research but said philanthropists must be prepared to work with in partnership with others and employ good practices in order to effect real change.


“Philanthropists must be able to combine great ambition with great modesty. They must have the ambition to make a real impact, but the modesty to know that, without others, real change is likely to be very limited. Philanthropists must therefore also be good listeners and open-minded.


“However good a strategy may be, success requires sharing good practices too. And this is what you will be doing throughout today’s sessions. We need good practices, from Europe and elsewhere, to open our minds. We can learn from each other, so that our shared ideas benefit not just the individual but also our societies.”


The event also welcomed the Peace Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, Senior Research Scholar at Stanford University's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab Lucy Bernholz, and philanthropist Diego Hidalgo, Board Member of the Education for Employment Foundation Europe. President Antonio Tajani also addressed to the audience via a video message and Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council and President of the European Foundation Centre (EFC), made the closing speech. 


Two major publications were also presented during the event. EFC and TGE released a publication with recommendations for more tax-effective cross-border philanthropy in Europe. ERNOP also presented a new study mapping the current state of research on giving in Europe.


Boost Philanthropy in Europe was organised in partnership with the European Research Network On Philanthropy (ERNOP), the EFC, the European Policy Centre, the Donors Associations and Foundation Networks in Europe (DAFNE), the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), EFA, the Network of European Foundations (NEF), Transnational Giving Europe (TGE) and Philanthropy Impact.