With around 2,000 participants, the German Foundation Conference is the largest foundation congress of its kind in Europe. Held May 16-18 in Nuremberg, this year’s congress focused on the multi-layered opportunities and challenges faced by the third sector in regard to digitalization.
For several years, the WHU Foundation has been involved in the thematic area of digitalization & gamification in the third sector, with research activities of its own and special network formats. Since 2016, it has teamed up with the Haniel Foundation and the Foundation for the Culture of Digital Games [Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur] to host the “Foundations @ Gamescom” event at which foundation executives and their children attend the world’s largest gaming trade fair and discuss the possibilities for the use of gamification on behalf of non-profit organizations. A Design Thinking Workshop for non-profits had also come up with the idea of conducting a study that would examine the question of how digital non-profit organizations themselves are positioned. Two workshops held at this year’s Foundation Conference addressed the experiences derived from these activities.
For one, the “International Working Group” of the Association of German Foundations, hosted by Dr. Peter Kreutter, Director of the WHU Foundation, addressed the topic of “Digitalization and Gamification in the Non-Profit Field – let’s go for a truly global perspective!” With Professor Dr. Linda Breitlauch, Trier University of Applied Sciences, Professor Odile Limpach, Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Cologne Game Lab, Martin Lorber, Electronic Arts, and Christoph Deeg, there four of the leading minds in the gaming industry presented their views of the topic along with their experiences.
The two Working Group Directors – Dr. Angela Kühnen, Member of the Executive Board of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, and Dr. Rupert Antes, Executive Director of the Haniel Foundation – drew an extremely positive conclusion. “The workshop awakened public curiosity for this subject, and we would be delighted if it we could gradually bring the worlds of foundation people and gamers together even more, to promote mutual learning and the generation of ideas,” Antes remarked.
Another workshop was held with the participation of WHU as part of the “Open Chanel.” The goal of this workshop was to engage in critical discourse around the question of whether digitalization has already progressed enough among foundations and social organizations, both internally and in their own work, and where a need for action and potentials exist. Two concrete cases were presented (Sofahopper.de and youvo.de) to show how digitalization initiatives can be successfully planned and implemented. In the panel discussion that followed, Nicole Dufft, fibonacci & friends, and Peter Kreutter, together with Markus Seidel, sofahopper.de, and Off Road Kids Stiftung, Tobias Oertel, Youvo, Professor Dr. Timon Beyes, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Professor Dr. Jörg Metelmann, University of St. Gallen, elaborated various facets of this multi-faceted topic with participants in the auditorium.
Felix Oldenburg, General Secretary of the Association of German Foundations, had words of praise for the workshop methodology and participants: “I am pleased to see several universities working together on a single topic, bringing together their complementary expertise. For me, the event offered a perfect example of how connecting innovative work formats, scientific perspectives and the foundation colleagues’ practical experience creates added value for the sector.”
The next German Foundation Conference will be held June 5 to 7, 2019, in Mannheim.