Having the privilege to attend three of the main foundation association conferences in two months – GIFE-Brazil, CoF-US, EFC-Europe – it is inevitable to identify similarities and differences between these gatherings.
Brazil is – obviously – livelier, noisier, colorful. The information andknowledge it has is very well packaged. From the programme to the name tag, in the whole environment there is a visible investment in design and communication. It also tends to be the most informal.
The US event is more focused, content driven, and conveys very quickly someof the best information. It has the most elaborate business plan: you can pay for full attendance or simply join a dinner, being possible to customize participation at different prices.
Europe is about tradition and innovation. Centuries old foundations engage in dialogue in some of the most creative formats. It is the meeting that conveys best a feeling of diversity, due to the many nationalities that compose the conference.
This year in the US and in Europe there was a clear emphasis on the dialogue with the state and government representatives. In Brazil many participants criticized the lack of government presence. None of the three conferences had a clear promotion of NGO involvement.
The presence of businesses and corporations were notable in the US and Brazil. In Europe, one can scarcely see any business participation.
The age of the public varies a lot. The Brazilian audience is the youngest. The US has a good mix. The average age at the EFC meeting is probably the highest – although in this conference the participation of young people appears to be growing.
Both in the US and in Europe there seems to be an ongoing generational change in philanthropy leadership. In Brazil the whole philanthropic sector is in its early teens.
The meals are very revealing of each culture – especially what goes on during the meal. The European lunch is the longest: up to two and a half
hours. Brazil reserves two hours for eating.
In the US, during the one and a half lunch plenary sessions, and in early breakfasts, you are supposed to consume food and information at the same time.
Only in Europe is wine served at all times. In the US, when there is wine, you might be asked to pay.