Be Philanthropy: connect, exchange, engageFtho


On Thursday 27th April, the King Baudouin Foundation organised the 'Be Philanthropy 2023' event at Autoworld in Brussels. More than 1,100 philanthropists, policy makers, notaries, bankers, asset managers, socially responsible entrepreneurs, foundations and family offices from Belgium and abroad participated. This key event in Belgian and European philanthropy focused on trends, opportunities and challenges in philanthropy.

Water drips and bubbles through a deft play with bowls, while another musician mimics the sound of wind. It is half past nine and the soundscape that composer Dirk Brossé created for Be Philanthropy goes crescendo. 'Memories of forgotten beings' ends dancing, with a soprano whose voice cries out for attention.

"Philanthropy is something we often look at from the top down. I wanted a voice from the bottom up. The cultural world is a sector that itself lives by the grace of philanthropy. But anyone can do something. If you don't have money, you can give young talent stage opportunities." Dirk Brossé, composer

What an entrée for the more than a thousand philanthropists, policymakers, notaries, bankers, asset managers, entrepreneurs, foundations, family offices and NGOs. They were invited to Be Philanthropy on 27 April at the Autoworld museum among dozens of priceless cars, a nod perhaps to the cliché. At this triennial gathering, the world of philanthropy in Belgium and beyond draws inspiration and exchanges views on trends, difficulties and opportunities.

'Memories of forgotten beings' focused on the people for whom philanthropists work. The crises of recent years have also sparked empathy, opined Queen Mathilde, honorary president of the King Baudouin Foundation, "made people aware of their collective vulnerability. They are looking for ways to make a difference to others with their money, their time or their talent.

"The special thing about philanthropy is that all parties benefit. Helping others makes not only the recipient happy, but also the donor." Queen Mathilde, honorary president of the King Baudouin Foundation

Philanthropy is indeed "a state of mind", Pierre Wunsch, president of the King Baudouin Foundation, picked up on that. Both he and Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem emphasised how philanthropic organisations cannot play ‘cavalier seul’. They have a responsibility to work with governments, NGOs and businesses to find the innovative solutions that are urgently needed.

If philanthropy "represents the space everyone has to change something in society", US actor Forest Whitaker proudly claimed that space. Via video link, he talked about his Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, which helps young people in eight countries develop their skills to lead, reconcile and (re)build their communities.

“I found the same look in the eyes of child soldiers in Uganda that I saw in the kids I grew up with in my neighbourhood. I was involved in philanthropy before I even knew I was doing it, by uplifting people as much as I could.” Actor Forest Whitaker of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative

He was just one of the many philanthropists present who turned an idea or a dream into a project that advances others, out of personal commitment, sometimes out of loss. But how can we do even more and even better? Using four major themes - be innovative, be engaged, be responsible, be enabled - BePhilanthropy challenged attendees, beyond their achievements and successes, to also question, and seek philanthropy for this rapidly changing world.

With sessions on public-private partnerships that can serve as catalysts and innovators for faster change, on corporate philanthropy at all levels in a company, and on arts and entrepreneurship, the panels shone their light on committed entrepreneurs.

The session on philanthropy advice held up a mirror to notaries, bankers, asset managers and other philanthropy advisers, including Beth Breeze, Director of the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre at Kent University in the UK.

"Philanthropy advisers need to offer a reality check, help donors think beyond their own perspective and ask themselves if society needs what they intend to do. Good advice leads to more and better philanthropy." Beth Breeze, Director of the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre, Kent University

Young people, their expectations and ambitions for philanthropy were discussed in many of the sessions. Their enthusiasm, but also their impatience, their desire for an agile and flexible engagement that is not alongside their professional life, but an integral part of it. They feel the distrust of the generations before them, said James Magowan of the European Community Foundations Initiative in the session on local philanthropy. He could only advise associations to hand over the reins to young people to give them confidence.

"Classic causes don't find young people and vice versa. They look around in their own network and on social media to see what they want to commit to." Diederik Van der Plas, CBF, charity regulator, Netherlands

The session 'BE Philanthropy in 2030, 2040 and 2050', featuring only young philanthropists and moderated by one of the Boosters of Boost for Talent, the programme through which the KBF aims to connect young talent from vulnerable backgrounds to an ambitious future, gave a taste of how their approach aims to rock the world of philanthropy.

"Film. Sports. Music. They are universal languages. They are channels for empathy. And yet these are the domains you find it hardest to find funds for, despite the transformative nature of these projects." Ilwad Elman, Elman Peace Foundation, Winner KBF Africa Prize 2022

A sigh that found an echo in the session on the importance of robust regulation to frame philanthropic action, where Thomas Preiss, co-founder of Common Goal, asked to be taken seriously.

"It's about being closer to this next generation of changemakers. If you are an athlete with a million followers on social media ... They have their ambition that goes far beyond scoring goals. There is a guidance and support required. Having global policymakers really interacting and listening would be a good starting point." Thomas Preiss, Common Goal

In his closing speech, Brieuc Van Damme, CEO of the KBF, pulled all the threads together. He outlined some priorities for the Foundation - working for a strong democracy, the importance of local philanthropy and of cross-border cooperation, including in giving.

"We should remain true to our role as explorers, not empire-builders, as allies, not rivals. We must embrace the variety of our fellow citizens' ideas of giving. And we must accept doubt. We must accept some degree of failure that comes with operating on ground that is constantly shifting." Brieuc Van Damme, CEO King Baudouin Foundation

All panel sessions were recorded and will soon be available on the 'Be Philanthropy 2023' page of our website, which we update regularly.

Other stories
Inspiring engagement!

‘Memories of Forgotten Beings’: a musical journey through time, space and sound

Encouraging philanthropy

"Philanthropy is something we often look at from the top down. I wanted a voice from the bottom up."
Dirk Brossé

A mountain climb to regain self-confidence

Encouraging philanthropy

"For a young person, being able to say 'I can do that' is a great support for the future.”
Philippe Stroobant
Founder of the À chacun son Cervin Fund

Other calls

2024B- Project Accounts - King Baudouin Foundation

The Foundation helps collect funds for innovative projects which serve the general interest. The donations for project accounts are tax deductable.

Selection announced

Culturele Mecenaatsrekening - 2024A

Raising funds in total transparency for an original cultural project,conducted with a precise budget and timetable. Donors receive a certificate fortax deduction (for donations o

Selection announced

2024A- Project Accounts - King Baudouin Foundation

The Foundation helps collect funds for innovative projects which serve the general interest. The donations for project accounts are tax deductable.

Selection announced

Other philantrophy

Melexis (Philanthropic Action)

Supporting vulnerable people at home and abroad in life-threatening or degrading situations.

Wikimedia Belgium (Fund Friends Of)

Philanthropists support projects of the Wikimedia Belgium association, which promotes free access and knowledge sharing, with particular focus on regional, federal and European l…

Other press releases

Hakima Darhmouch, Céline Fremault, Meryame Kitir and Louis Jonckheere have joined the King Baudouin Foundation’s Board of Governors

16 01 2024

The Board of Governors of the King Baudouin Foundation has elected four new members for a four-year term starting on 1 January 2024.

Be Philanthropy 2023

27 04 2023

An event to promote philanthropy, reflect on its social role and inspire Belgian and European philanthropists in their commitment.

Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: solidarity with the victims

08 02 2023

Following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, the KBF is making its philanthropic tools and network available to philanthropists who want to show solidarity with the victims.