Brazil’s local, Indigenous organisations face uphill battle for legal recognition 


Shafi Musaddique


Brazil’s Indigenous-run, locally led organisations face an uphill battle for legal recognition. 

A report published by the Casa Fund, one of Brazil’s most preeminent grant makers with a focus on indigenous peoples, climate and social justice, warns that local nonprofits find it difficult to find legal recognition as the process is ‘bureaucratic and costly’, involving ‘lawyers, accountants, and notary public offices’. 

‘Considering the local infrastructure where Indigenous organisations are located, this becomes even more difficult,’ says the Casa Fund. 

As a result, the fund says it is supporting local organisations that enables collectives to receive funds through partners without the required number needed for the national registry of legal entities.  

Casa Fund says the number of Indigenous organizations formalized with a CNPJ number receiving support from the Casa Fund has increased from 42% to 87%  

The report details the fund’s 19-year journey as it has established itself over Latin America’s largest country. 

The Casa Fund has reached more than half of Brazil’s Indigenous peoples – some 60 per cent going towards 182 different ethnic groups – in less than six years.  

The Brazil-based philanthropy says it has, in the last six years alone, have reached 177 ethnic groups. 

Maria Amália Souza, founder of the Casa Fund, says international philanthropic resources is key to compensating Indigenous groups after ‘centuries of domination and strengthen civil society in the countries of the South, which has been so erased from history and repressed by governments and economic systems’. 

The Casa Fund prioritises grants to small and medium-sized community-based organisations in Brazil of ‘traditional populations, defending rights and citizenship and dealing with socio-environmental issues and the sustainability of human development’. 

In a report published in June, the fund says that despite the number of grants for older organizations growing, most grants continue to go to organisations with an annual budget of less than BRL 50,000.00 (US $10,000). 

Among the youth organisations supported by the Casa Fund, the largest proportion is of indigenous organisations, accounting for 37 per cent of total support for youth. 

‘To directly support, in just six years, Indigenous associations belonging to more than half of Brazil’s ethnic groups is something unprecedented — from what we know of the philanthropic field, we are sure that this has never been done before at such an intensity and in such a short time’ 

Between 2018 and 2023, the Casa Fund says it received requests for support totaling $38 million. It supported under half, with $15 million – 41 percent of the total requests for funds.  

Shafi Musaddique is news editor at Alliance magazine. 

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