Through the political vicissitudes of the second half of the last century, Brazilian philanthropy has evolved from very traditional charity based on the tenets of the Catholic church to a strategic instrument for citizenship participation in a sustainable development process. Moreover, a new mood in both government and business offers the possibility of utilizing the best of all three sectors in transforming Brazilian society.
The problems with which the country has to contend present a grave challenge. According to the World Development Report, 2000/2001, Brazil is the world's tenth largest economy, with a GNP of US$742.8 billion. But the same report indicates that Brazil entered the 21st century with 10 per cent of its population owning almost 47 per cent of the country’s wealth, while another 20 per cent of its people subsist on only 3.6 per cent.