Catalyst 2030 calls for 'powerful shift' from traditional philanthropy as it celebrates world’s leading funders

Catalyst 2030 network mobilises some 1,000 organisations worldwide to sign open letter calling for end to short-term funding focused on symptoms, as network’s Systemic Change Awards go to SAP, European Commission and more.

Some 1,000 organisations have called on funders and donors to overhaul the way they use their money in an open letter, unveiled at the Catalyst 2030 awards yesterday.

If they intend to tackle the world’s “cascading, connected set of pressing problems”, funders should “remodel their traditional practices to more effectively support grassroots organisations and sustainable social impact”, the letter says.

Signatories include members of the Catalyst 2030 network – a group of organisations that collaborate to help achieve the UN sustainable development goals by 2030 – and other supportive entities.

The letter calls for a dramatic shift in philanthropic approaches that currently tend to favour short-term projects, give little voice to people with lived experience of problems, focus on “symptoms” rather than the root causes of issues and hinder collaboration, according to the signatories.

Signatories urge “philanthropists of all types” to adopt a 10-point approach, which includes providing multi-year, unrestricted funding, financing networks, simplifying paperwork and “offering support beyond the check”.

Given the powerful role of funders... these shifts will better enable and empower the social sector

The shift needs to span across different types of funders including private philanthropy, governments and multilateral bodies, signatories argue.

The letter reads: “Given the powerful role of funders and donors in influencing the work and scope of organisations working on systemic issues, these shifts will better enable and empower the social sector and will foster multi-sectoral collaborations that work towards the types of systems changes that are urgently needed.”


Prize-winners: European Commission, SAP, France

The letter was unveiled at the Catalyst 2030 Awards for Systemic Change ceremony, which took place online on Wednesday. 

The awards recognise the achievements of individuals and organisations tackling the world’s most urgent crises through co-creation and collaboration – in particular funders that support the development of social enterprise and social innovation.

In total, 12 organisations across four categories received awards. The top prize in the corporate category, which highlights best practices in private sector engagement with the social enterprise, went to German software giant SAP. 

“While we have worked in this space for over a decade, our engagement with social enterprises has truly accelerated in the last few years,” Alexandra van der Ploeg, head of corporate social responsibility projects at SAP, said. SAP’s focus in this area was partly on “driving a more multi-stakeholder ecosystem approach”.

Among the philanthropists recognised was Cartier Philanthropy, a Switzerland-based foundation, as “leader in collaboration”. 

Pascale De La Fregonniere, strategic advisor to the board at Cartier Philanthropy, said: “To bring about positive change in people's lives, there is no other way but to collaborate with individuals, families, communities, civil society, academics, government, funders, and this at all levels… We truly believe that [is] the only way to solve the most pressing problems the world faces today. And the only way to do it with the urgency required is to act collectively.”

To bring about positive change in people's lives, there is no other way but to collaborate

The European Commission won the award in the multilaterals and bilaterals category for its Social Economy Action Plan, the bloc’s new strategy to boost the social economy sector in Europe, first published in December 2021.

The Victorian Government of Australia won in the government category for Asia-Pacific, in recognition of its social enterprise and social procurement strategies. The European government award was given to France for its Pact for Impact initiative to drive the growth of the social and solidarity economy across the world.

An additional three organisations received a special recognition award for their work to help empower women: Global Affairs Canada’s Canada Helping Women and Girls initiative; L’Oréal Paris, and Women Moving Millions.


Top picture: STREAT, a signatory of the letter, provides young people who find it hard to get work with training and professional experience in its artisan bakery, production kitchen, coffee roastery and multiple café sites (credit: STREAT)

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