The 8th EVPA Annual Conference,  took place in Dublin on 13-14 November 2012. It addressed the question “Backing the change-makers in a time of uncertainty: can we do more?” The conclusion was that we can and should do more. As Conference Chair David Gold and EVPA CEO Kurt Peleman remarked in their closing session, we need to learn from each other – also from failures. Innovation is not only about the new but also about doing things better.

The conference gathered around 400 leaders from a variety of sectors, such as VP and social investment funds, PE/VC firms, donors, advisory firms, foundations, banks, academics and some selected social entrepreneurs. It confirmed one of the key distinguishing factors of EVPA: the capacity to attract and gather diverse players to discuss, share and create greater knowledge.

The 7th EVPA Annual conference took place in Turin on 16 – 17 November 2011. This year’s conference was titled: “Venture Philanthropy as a Catalyst for Societal Change”. Together we looked at how venture philanthropy is impacting society and how it can generate even greater impact by:

  • Broadening its target sectors from purely social sectors to including sectors such as the environment, culture, medical research and healthcare;
  • Working together with a wider set of collaborators, including governments, corporations and beyond;
  • Improving the general efficiency of the philanthropic investment process.

The 6th EVPA Annual Conference took place in Luxembourg on the 16 – 17 November 2010. It acknowledged that venture philanthropy has come a long way since the first official EVPA conference in London in 2005. The distinction between the nonprofit and the for-profit sector has become blurred with the emergence of social entrepreneurship and the increased demand for transparency and performance measurement to assess the efficiency of nonprofit organisations. Meanwhile, foundations have considered how to change some of their practices in order to better assist the social sector and how to align their investments with their social mission. Venture philanthropy is positioned at the intersection between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. As such, venture philanthropy includes high engagement and a range of financing mechanisms tailored to the needs of the social purpose organisation, be it a nonprofit organisation or a social enterprise.

The 5th Annual EVPA Conference, held at the headquarters of ABN Amro Private Banking in Amsterdam on 17 and 18 November highlighted the work of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises and the role that venture philanthropy could play in supporting them. 350 delegates from 28 countries put forward social enterprise as a model when other models had been put to the test and often found wanting.

EVPA held its fourth annual conference at the end of September in Frankfurt. More than 330 delegates, drawn from 26 countries, attended. Strikingly, for what was predominantly a European event, some came from as far afield as India, China and Singapore and the US. Participants heard presentations from both VP investors – among them, Paul Baan, founder of the Noaber Group, Andrew Muirhead of Inspiring Scotland and Daniela Barone Soares, CEO of Impetus Trust – and investees and the conference also featured roundtables and breakout sessions on subjects which included performance measurement, scaling up social enterprises, working with government and international organisations, and venture philanthropy and sustainable development.

The European Venture Philanthropy Association’s (EVPA) third annual conference was held in Madrid on 25 October. The event had a truly international scope, drawing almost 300 people from 30 countries. Among countries represented, those attending came from Belgium, France, Ukraine, and Estonia, as well as from the US, Bolivia, Lebanon, China and South Africa. There were some veterans of venture philanthropy, but many newcomers to the field were also present. The conference took place over one day, providing plenty of opportunities for people to learn from the many experienced presenters and to make while also renewing friendships with one another.