The Funders Retreat was an opportunity to provide a space for senior members of the funding community to talk through and reflect upon the value of a systems approach to their organisations and their practice. Funders regularly speak about the complexity of the social issues that they seek to address, and they acknowledge that it is easier to recognise that something is complex but much harder to know how to act. Systems approaches have emerged over several decades as a way of helping to understand complexity and as a means of addressing some of the real-world problems that funders and social sector leaders grapple with on a day-to-day basis.
The two-day event brought together forty-three individual funders from thirty-two foundations working across the UK and Europe with a very diverse spread of interests and make-up. Sitting alongside each other were large national and international funders and smaller hyper-local ones; endowed institutions and operational funders; multi-interest funders and issue-specific funders.