The 22nd GEF conference was held in Vienna on 27-29 September. The conference was organized by the European Foundation Center and this time was hosted by the ERSTE Foundation.
European societies face a series of complex challenges that affect both the economy, political legitimacy and social cohesion. In most cases, government institutions are the ones that restrict civic spaces that are necessary for health political debate, self-expression and interaction.
The purpose of the conference was to explore how institutionalized philanthropy can help in finding new approaches to regaining and / or validating these civic spaces.
Particular attention has been paid to the way in which art and culture can respond to the threats facing Europe.
The rush of talks focused on how imagination, creativity and self-expression can be the engines of social change.
„It was a very inspiring event, which every day had a different location, and various important civic institutions in Vienna,” said Csáki Rozália, executive director of the Odorheiu Secuiesc Community Foundation.
Apparently, particular attention is paid to community foundations as institutions that are close to local society can be able to respond quickly and genuinely to challenges. However, their number is still low in the Western Balkan countries.
There has also been talk about the infrastructure for the development of philanthropy, which is in need of development in our region, including the legislative framework, donor development, capacity building of NGOs, development of various donation channels, methods to facilitate donation, etc.
Social and community businesses have also been given special attention.
Vienna University of Economics and Business carried out a research on civil societies in Central and Eastern Europe (http://www.erstestiftung.org/blog/civil-society-in-central-and-eastern-europe-challenges-and -opportunities/), this has also been announced.
There have been inspiring presentations about public spaces: how the mayor of Trikala (Greece) has built a more accessible and efficient city through digitalization; Room Hotels in Georgia (http://roomshotels.com/, https://adjaragroup.com/) about managing how catering units themselves can be community spaces.