International seminar of large francophone foundations


Paris, January 29th to 31st, 2020


Where francophone foundations can reflect on the issues affecting their practices

Under the auspices of the Fondation de France, the Second International Seminar of Large Francophone Foundations took place in Paris from January 29th to 31st, 2020.

This seminar brought together a dozen francophone foundations to offer an intimate space for exchanges among foundations having demonstrated an interest in exploring, with others, the impact of social, political and economic change on their practices.

Invited by the Fondation de France and the Fondation communautaire du Grand Montréal (their Quebec partner), a small delegation of Quebecois grantmaking foundations joined in on the meeting.

Taking on the form of a “community of practice”, this seminar was a time for participating foundations to reflect, together, on the place of foundations in the face of the profound transformations affecting our societies: changing democratic models, the explosion of the ecological/climate issue, the crises of governance, public institutions and trust of information, etc.

International seminar of large francophone foundations

Systemic change and strategic philanthropy

In the face of these crises, do foundations play a role in favouring or supporting profound or systemic change? If yes, what are the possible strategies to do so?

Many foundations must constantly question how to reconcile long-term vision with a sense of urgency. These questions bring up the challenges regarding the legitimacy and accountability of their actions.

With the input from attending foundations as well as invited speakers, this seminar allowed for the Quebecois foundations present to go over these questions with other francophone foundations, from both Europe and the African continent.

A francophone and francophile philanthropy

Anglo-Saxon grantmaking philanthropy currently dominates the international scene. Its influence is notable. The practices of large American and English foundations, the way they reflect on their actions as well as their relationship with the State, have all influenced and continue to significantly influence the practices of philanthropic actors in Quebec, Canada and around the world.

Among many francophone foundations, there is a certain desire to think in French. Beyond the question of language, this search mirrors the need to act from other paradigms and political or cultural contexts. The International Seminar of French Foundations is thus part of a search for new spaces in which we can reflect together on the issues that affect the practices of foundations, starting from elements unique to a culture and cognitive context shared, in part, by foundations stemming from francophone societies.

It was a very interesting gathering, rich with meaning and lessons for the foundations who took part in the process. Our shared challenge will be to find times to collectivize our respective lessons and allow for the foundations in questions to feed the reflections taking place within the philanthropic sector.

Jacques Bordeleau

Directeur général

Fondation Béati

Translation from French by Katherine Mac Donald