Impact Together – European Venture Philanthropy Conference 

Date: 27 November 2023

As we progress toward our Vision 2030 impact goals, YMCA continues to seek new ways of partnering and funding our work. This led us in 2023 to join the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA). This is a community of corporate foundations, impact investors and NGOs that come together to learn and find ways to collaborate for more impact. Below are insights from the just-concluded annual conference.

During the third week of November, more than 2,000 of Europe’s corporate foundations, impact investors and civil society leaders converged in Turin, Italy, for an immersive three days. Against the backdrop of insufficient progress to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, the group’s call to action was loud and clear – how to work TOGETHER for impact.

In amongst a frenzy of side meetings and new relationships and connections forming,  the many conference sessions discussed themes around:

  • How to join up individual efforts for more impact and stronger ecosystems for change.
  • How to bring in a broader range of financing mechanisms to fund the work; beyond grantmaking, bringing in blended finance including debt equity and outcomes, results-based funding.

Some of these themes and opportunities are new to YMCAs used to grant funding and often transactional relationships with funders. These conversations open our minds to the appetite and interest from the private sector to partner with civil society organisations in new ways, said Caroline Chernov, the Global Impact Investing lead for the World YMCA, pictured above. She noted as key YMCA takeaways:

  1. Relationships move at the speed of trust: take time to work together (YMCA and funder) to understand each other, the shared problem, and what strengths each party brings to make change and how these can be complementary. Trust is key, she said, and rushing into transactional pitches for funding too quickly undermines the full potential of longer-term strategic partnerships.
  2. Impact data is the currency. Evidence of what works is needed to attract funding capital.
  3. NGO and civil society voices are critical in shaping the impact investing market. It is needed to ensure funds go to those most in need, that no one is left behind and that solutions are shaped to best meet the needs of the community. “We have a role to play”, Caroline said, “and we must step in to understand the opportunity of impact investing and how these funds can be used to accelerate our Vision 2030 impact”.

Said Caroline, “We leave having strengthened existing relationships and built new ones. And we leave with our heads full of ideas and opportunities to advance our work. In 2024, we are launching three initiative streams that bring impact investing approaches into YMCA involving our property, our social enterprises and our youth employment programmes. Stayed tuned for more information on each and how to get involved”.

Concluded Pedro Fueyo, the National General Secretary of YMCA Spain, “The event in Turin was outstanding! New opportunities in the framework of impact investing opened up to us this week, and I also had great learning. From what I’ve seen, YMCA can add much of its potential to this kind of relationship.”

For more information, contact Caroline.