One Small Grant Helped WINGS Get Awarded 1 Million Euros

By Peter Brach

The Worldwide Initiative of Grantmaker Support (WINGS) is arguably the largest global network of networks. Member include Gates, Ford, Rockefeller, Hilton, Council on Foundations, European Foundation Centre and many others. Yet, for years they lacked the funding needed to enter the philanthropy’s sector global advocacy space. This is because most grantmakers support programs. Then the few that provide growth or operational funding carry the heavy weight from providing for other necessities.

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 them do a better job at being a centralized support to those in their network and the networks existing within their members. My fund provided a $60,000 human resource support grant. Admittedly, I had no idea how far this grant would go. Below is an email I recently received 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 irrupted 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 grant, the biggest in our history.” 

Final Thoughts

I was aware that WINGS was short on staffing but did not know specifically about their urgent need regarding securing a grant from the European Union. For good reasons, I suspect neither did anyone else — there is a profound disconnect between real needs and the ability to communicate them to funders. In WINGS’ case, failure to secure this grant could have set them back possibly for years, and it would have been a loss not only for them but also for the large networks they represent.