The IDIS Forum 2018 with the theme of ‘Impact of Technology’ gave us food for thought. The highlight for me was the opening session presented by Rhodri Davies from Charities Aid Foundation and talked about ‘where technology meets social investment (philanthropy)’ showing the good and the not so good about technology in our field. He left us with very, very good questions such as ‘could technology create new ways for existing CSOs to solve problems?’ ‘Or will it create new ones?’ ‘Could it give rise to new kinds of donation or a new class of donors?’ ‘Could it offer new ways of engaging donors and supporters?’ And also many questions about improving their work, or new challenges for CSOs and their beneficiaries, and a key question: ‘Will it reduce or increase inequality’?
Considering the reality of CSOs themselves in Brazil, it is a very good question.
IPEA study released last April showed that there now 820 thousands CSOs, spread all over the country in the same proportion of our population and every city has at least one CSO. Ninety per cent are small with up to three employees.
Another study done in 2016 on the use of technology says that 78 per cent of CSOs have made use of A computer in the last 12 months (most for administrative purposes), and 58 per cent have their own computer in use. Only 37 per cent have a website, and as for online fundraising, 5 per cent of CSOs use social media, 1 per cent use crowdfunding platforms and 2 per cent use the organisation’s website.
Throughout the day we saw very interesting and great examples of using technology and artificial intelligence made by companies, development agencies and high profile foundations and CSOs to improve quality of life of people and causes in our country.
The gap between what we saw during the event, and the reality of the majority of our CSO is huge. Unfortunately, we can count on the fingers of one hand the number of funders that would be supporting bridging this gap in Brazil. We need to change the scenery, and having more funders supporting the CSO strengthening their capacity and update their technological capabilities, otherwise we will be sentencing them to death.
Marcia Kalvon Woods is Chair of the Board at Brazilian Association of Fundraisers