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Mid-year AFF Update – June 2015
Posted: June 20, 2015

At our General Assembly in March, we welcomed three new members to the Board of Directors and at our first Board meeting in Dubai on May 19th, 2015, we confirmed our Board officers:

Emirates Foundation – Chair of the Board
Clare Woodcraft-Scott, CEO

Mansour Foundation – Vice-Chair of the Board
Rania Hammoud, Managing Director

Sawiris Foundation for Social Development – Treasurer of the Board
Noura Selim, Executive Director

The American University in Beirut – Secretary of the Board
Imad Baalbaki, Associate Vice-President of Development

The Arab Human Rights Fund – Board Member
Elie Abouaoun, former Executive Director; current Director of Middle East Programs with the Center for Middle East and Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – Board Member
Oussama Rifahi, Executive Director

A.M. Qattan Foundation – Board Member
Ziad Khalaf, Director General

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Here are a few of the highlights and outcomes of our Board Meeting that we would like to share with you to ensure that you are all up to date on our activities and plans for the remainder of the year:

Our Board Meeting was graciously hosted by the Legatum Foundation in Dubai. You can read more about the Legatum Foundation here on their website.

The Board Meeting focused mostly on the activities and progress of the Forum over the past 6 months and we identified the following activities as our key priorities for the remainder of 2015:

Network

We recognize that our network, although strong, has the potential to grow across the region exponentially. To that end, we are focusing our activities in 2015 on expanding our membership base, with a particular focus on the GCC region, where we feel there is great potential. In an effort to engage our current and potential members, we have also decided to host networking gatherings throughout the region. The purpose of these networking gatherings is to both engage existing members to reiterate our value proposition while also targeting new prospective members to grow our community. Each networking event will entail a discussion around a ‘best practice’ topic of relevance to the sector and to the host country. We will be particularly focused on getting high quality thought leaders in the industry:

Our first networking gathering took place on June 10th with our Palestine-based network and was graciously hosted by AFF member, the Mahmoud Abbas Foundation. The meeting was a 2-hour roundtable discussion, followed by a working lunch. The discussion was centered on the creation of a collaborative youth-focused initiative that each of the members will contribute to. Each of the attendees gave a brief overview of the current youth-focused projects their organizations are engaged in and began to discuss some of the ways in which they can all contribute towards a joint project. The meeting was attended by the Mahmoud Abbas Foundation, the A.M. Qattan Foundation, the Welfare Association, the NGO Development Center, the PalTel Foundation, the Palestine Social Fund for Development, and the Arab Foundations Forum. The next meeting is already scheduled for August 10th and the outcome of that will be to design the framework of a pilot project for AFF members in Palestine to collaborate on. We hope to have the final design of the project ready for implementation in 2016 by December 2015.

AFF and Board Members will also host additional networking events in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon in 2015.

Since our Members’ Meeting and General Assembly in March, AFF has added new members to our network: the CIB Foundation in Egypt as Full members, the Stars Foundation in the UK as Fellow members, and most recently, the PalTel Foundation has rejoined our membership as Full members. We are hoping to continue to expand the membership base between now and the end of 2015, and we will be sure to keep you informed as we add new members to our network.

Annual Meeting

At our Members’ Meeting and General Assembly in March, we discussed the Annual Meeting for AFF and agreed that it would be hosted in Amman in September 2015. Since our discussion and decision, we have had to assess our current funding standing and have come to the conclusion that AFF will not be able to host a stand-alone Annual Meeting this year. Recognizing that we do not want to wait another year before our network reconvenes, Emirates Foundation has generously offered to host the AFF members for an exclusive Members’ Meeting in Abu Dhabi as part of the annual Emirates Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Summit on October 27th and 28th. Additionally, we are hoping to secure sponsorship to allow us to add a full day to the meeting on October 29th in Abu Dhabi and will keep you updated on progress in this regard. Our Members’ Meeting in October will focus on the theme of “Social Return on Investment and Social Impact” and will be tailored to our members and partners with plenary sessions and break-out sessions, as well as a hosted dinner. We will plan for our next Members’ Meeting and General Assembly to take place by May 2016.

Knowledge & Resource

In an ongoing effort for AFF to aggregate and make available relevant information and data to our network, we have decided to begin to design a database of foundations and grant-making entities in the Arab region, beginning with our existing network of members and partners. The initial phase of this database will build on the information and data we already have from each of our members, and we will be reaching out to members in the coming few weeks to request your assistance in providing us with additional information. We will be working with our members, and particularly with the King Hussein Foundation’s Information and Research Center and Silatech, to build this database and we hope to add to it and create a comprehensive information hub moving forward.

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