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Carol Mack’s Summary Speech at ACF Virtual Annual Conference

Click here to read Carol Mack's closing Conference speech in full

After two days packed with insightful and though-provoking reflections, the ACF Virtual Annual Conference concluded with a closing summary speech from ACF’s Chief Executive, Carol Mack.

Reviewing the learnings from the Covid crisis and funder response, which filled the first day of the conference, Carol turned to what formed the focus for the second day: how might we build back better and address challenges in the new decade ahead?

The climate crisis is certainly a key challenge. A polling session at the conference revealed that a third of attendees said they are looking to prioritise climate change in their work in the next five years. In the year since ACF’s last Annual Conference, Funding on a Finite Planet, 50 foundations have signed on to the Funder Commitment on Climate Change. While this is a strong start, Carol encouraged other funders to think about forwarding their missions with climate in mind.

Carol’s summary also identified other questions and challenges ahead for funders: How can we address structural inequalities? How can we support culture, heritage and sports? What is our role in tackling misinformation?  How can we help countries maintain an outward-looking cooperative approach to solving global problems?

Despite these challenges, Carol’s questions came with a hopeful note because “the response that we all have made to Covid-19 shows that we can change much more than we dared to believe possible.”

While funders are right to maintain an independent focus on their individual charitable missions, Carol emphasised the role collaboration can play in helping us address common challenges. Not every foundation needs to answer all the questions that lie ahead, but collectively as an ecosystem “we should think about our cumulative impact and how we as the foundation sector play our role in a changing society.”

The Funders’ Collaborative Hub is one way that ACF is working to support members in this collective endeavour. Together with funders and philanthropists, ACF developed a programme of events, resources, and a growing directory of funder collaborations, which Carol encouraged attendees to get involved with.

Closing the conference, Carol asserted that “now is a time for foundations to be more ambitious and effective than ever before”, and ACF’s role is to support this.

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