A willingness to take risks and do things differently is key to ensuring that a philanthropic institution has a clear role as a force for change, says Luc Tayart de Borms, as he steps down on May 1 after 27 years as Chief Executive Officer of the King Baudouin Foundation. His successor Brieuc Van Damme will, says Luc Tayart, take KBF in new directions vital to a new era, while retaining its DNA as an “independent, pluralistic and entrepreneurial” organisation.
“If philanthropy has any role, it has to be a little bit different from others, in the public sector or corporations. Always do what the others don’t. That’s an enormous added value,” Luc Tayart de Borms said in an interview to mark his retirement from a foundation he has helped transform since 1996, overseeing a near 20-fold growth in assets and giving KBF a leadership profile in Europe and beyond through a series of innovative international philanthropic partnerships.
KBF has a relatively modest financial weight in terms of global giving but this, says Luc Tayart, has been an asset: “It has made us, I think, creative and innovative … We punch above our weight.” He spoke of the need to balance responses to crises – such as KBF’s role in channelling donations during the Covid-19 pandemic, last summer’s Belgian floods or the current war in Ukraine – with a firm focus on its long-term priorities which include combatting poverty, healthcare research, European democracy and development in Africa.