CAF Roundtable: Building trust in Brazil and Russia


Amy McGoldrick


At a time when it is increasingly common for civil society to look inward as national politics piles on the pressure, it was refreshing to attend a roundtable in London with CAF, to delve into the giving landscapes of Brazil, Russia and the UK.

Their ‘Is Philanthropy Doing Enough to Build Trust?‘ event in December sought to discuss the supporting of the development of civil society by philanthropy, and how this strengthens local giving and trust building.

‘The context of ‘trust’ is more important than ever,’ stated Edelman Trust Barometer’s representative. ‘Questions that we thought were answered years ago are now back… we need a more human narrative – and one of hope.’

Edelman is an international study, focusing on the principles of trust across four institutions: business, government, NGOs and media. It was here that we learned that trust in all four institutions has declined across the globe.

NGOs around the world are seeing trust in their organisations waning; frustration with regard to competence, accountability and their closeness to government has meant disillusionment. According to Edelman, this cynicism is strong within the ‘informed public’ as well.

Paula Fabiani, CEO of the Institute for the Development of Social Investment (IDIS), spoke of Brazil’s giving trends, drawing on some recent research.

Giving to LGBT causes is most popular for young people, whilst the least donations go to research and community development. Remarkably, those with a lower income give 1.2 per cent of their total income, whilse those who are higher give much less, at 0.4 per cent.

Fabiani explained that givers in Brazil are still finding their feet. They ‘haven’t realised their cause – what matters to them, and what they’re looking for,’ she noted.

Whilst 2015 saw Brazil’s largest ever protest in history, with over 1 million people on the streets, there is still a problem with the population ‘realising that citizenship is participatory.’

This is combined with a paternalistic approach, where the public don’t regard NGOs as transformative. Fabiani argued that it is in NGOs’ best interests to learn how to communicate with the public effectively, and to be willing to be transparent.

David Stead, head of CAF’s Philanthropy Division, spoke of the 61% of the UK population who give money, according to research by CAF in the UK.

These donations are mostly to medical research, animal welfare, children and young people. ‘However,’ Stead said, ‘only 50% of the general public trust charities – and it is too early to tell if reduced trust means reducing giving.’

Stead argued that the more involved a giver is with their charity, the more that that beneficiary has an idea of what that charity is doing – and therefore is more trusting. ‘If giving is more reactive than engaged, then how permanent is it?’ Stead asked.

The final case study was made for Russia, with their giving trends described by Maria Chertok, CEO of CAF Russia. Chertok spoke of the growth in individual giving within Russia, particularly since 15 years ago, the number was ‘close to nothing’. NGOs should ‘be transparent, and use a different voice – not from the higher ground talking down,’ stated Chertok.

An important aspect of Russian giving is their embracing of community philanthropy. This, in theory at least, mitigates the gap between donors and beneficiaries, as they are the same people. ‘When the whole community gives, the whole community benefits,’ noted Chertok.

Amy McGoldrick is Alliance’s Marketing and Advertising Officer.

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