Making a Difference Through Grant Programs (2008)

Last year, we came together for the “Sabanci Foundation Lecture Series” to discuss “Global Perspectives on the Changing Roles of Foundations” with leading experts from the international foundation sector. This year’s subject was grant programs and the role of grantmaking in advancing social development.

The seminar Making a Difference through Grant Programs was held at the Sabanci Center on December 1, 2008. Among the participants were representatives from government, private sector, press, foundations, NGOs and academia.

In her opening speech Ms. Guler Sabanci pointed out that with its assets and philanthropic contributions, Sabanci Foundations is one of the largest foundations in Turkey. Referring to the strategy assessment period Sabanci Foundation has undertaken since the beginning of 2007, Ms. Guler Sabanci emphasized that the strategy work was completed and new program areas were defined as Women , Youth and Persons with Disabilities . Ms. Guler Sabanci said: While we will continue to work on our existing programs, on the other hand we are developing our new programs within a defined strategy. Within this context, we are taking into account the problems our target groups are facing, and strive to support projects which promote empowerment and make a difference in people lives.

Pointing out the increasing importance of Grant programs parallel to global social change, Ms. Guler Sabanci said: Foundations in Turkey, should adapt to this change as fast as they can and should become role models for other organizations in the areas of social transformation and sustainable development. Ms. Guler Sabanci expressed that the most important factor in designing this year seminar subject as Making a Difference through Grant Programs was the new step Sabancı Foundation has taken in the area of social development. Ms. Guler Sabanci explained the Social Development Grant Program the foundation has launched recently, and said: Sabancı Foundation has recently opened the Social Development Grant Program which aims to support projects in the areas of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

Ms. Guler Sabanci said through this grant program, the foundation will distribute a total of 1 million TL of grants to sustainable projects which have a multiplier effect. From here I am making an open call to representatives of foundations NGOs and academia to submit projects. Stating that the Sabanci Foundation Lecture Series began to be organized by the Foundation last year in order to create a platform where new trends regarding the civil society could be discussed; Ms. Guler Sabanci declared that the seminar series would continue to be organized annually and with continued participation of international experts.

In his speech, Dr. Kumi Naidoo, Honarary President of CIVICUS (World Alliance for Civic Participation) stressed the importance of civil society organizations and said Government and the private sector cannot do alone what civil society organizations are undertaking today. Every day 50 thousand women and children die because of various reasons which may actually be prevented. This is a massacre and civil society organizations have a great role to undertake.

Expressing the importance of thinking globally and acting locally Dr. Kumi Naidoo said: In grant programs; sustainability, relations with government, effects of climate change, commercial factors and social change are very important . Touching upon Turkey-EU relations through the end of his speech, Naidoo said EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs EU .

In her speech, Global Fund for Women President and CEO Ms. Kavita Ramdas drew upon examples from various civil society organizations among the world, noted the changes foundations are going through and shared reflections on new models and vehicles that are being used in civil society sector. Stressing the rising importance of civil society concept in Turkey, Ramdas said: Compared to other countries, in Turkey you are starting grant programs with many advantages. And for sure civil society organizations have a great part in it.

Expressing the importance of relations with the government, Ramdas said: No one donated an estate to us. As Global Fund for Women, we created our assets by receiving grants from different institutions. Regarding this, the relations with government are very important. In order to maintain boundaries and remain neutral on government policy implications,we do not receive any funding from the government. Grant programs allow us to hear the voices of the people we cannot hear. As Global Fund for Women, we work to create solutions for women in the areas of discrimination, domestic violence, and other critical issues.

Ramdas also expressed that target groups and focal areas of the Sabancı Foundation Grant Program were very well set and defined. She said: This Grant program will make a great difference in Turkey .

Filiz Bikmen, Manager of Institutional Development and Programs of Sabancı Foundation moderated the seminar. In an active discussion with the guest speakers, Kumi Naidoo and Kavita N. Ramdas, examples from global grant programs, and their impact, importance and implications in social change were discussed. In the question and answer session, speakers answered the questions of the participants about the ways of encouraging innovative project activities and millennium development goals.

For the written document of the seminar please click here...

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