“How a $60,000 Grant Helped WINGS Get Awarded 1 Million Euros”

-Peter Brach, Ed.M.

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The Worldwide Initiative of Grantmaker Support (WINGS) is arguably the largest global network of networks. Members include Gates, Ford, Rockefeller, Hilton, Council on Foundations, European Foundation Centre, and a long list of others. Yet, for years WINGS has lacked the funding needed to enter the philanthropy sector’s global advocacy space. This is because most grantmakers do not focus on these kinds of objectives.

When the pandemic hit, I believed that WINGS had a vital role to play as the center of many philanthropic activities. I concluded that additional staffing could help their team provide more centralized support to their network. Admittedly, I had no idea how far this grant would go. Below is an email sent to me from WINGS’ Executive Director, Benjamin Bellegy:


Thank you so much for your email and support. We were indeed extremely excited to receive the confirmation of the 1 million euros grant for 2021-2022. Your support in 2020 has definitely played a role in helping us get that grant. We almost lost the opportunity to concretize this agreement when Covid-19 erupted and changed all the budget allocations at the EU. But with your support to our team at that critical time, we have been able to maintain our activities while continuing to push and invest our time in negotiating with the EU. This has led to this great outcome of a 1 million [Euro] grant, the biggest in our history.”

I was aware that WINGS was short on staffing but knew nothing about their urgent need regarding securing a grant from the European Union, and I suspect other grantmakers in the network didn’t either. There is a profound disconnect between real opportunities for achieving broad progress and the ability to communicate them to others. Moving forward, we must do more to make exceptional opportunities for achieving progress better known. In WINGS’ case, failure to secure this grant could have been an exceptional opportunity lost.

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