After three years since the last national reunion, the philanthropic sector of Brazil came together on 15 September in Sao Paulo at the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum organized by the Institute for Development of Social Investment (IDIS).
More than 200 guests attended in person, and many more joined the conference virtually. With 11 sessions and presenters from around the world, the Forum explored the topic of collaboration. It was very inspiring to see many young participants and future philanthropists in the venue among more seasoned people.
Collaboration in action
A fascinating first dialogue was with Celso Athayde, the Founder of Central Unica das Favelas, Neil Heslop, CEO of CAF, Monica Sodre, CEO of RAPS – and moderated by Atila Roque, Ford Foundation Brazil. All of them were from very different backgrounds and used the space to host a dialogue around the factors that need to be addressed for collaboration in the sector to reach far, as well as fast.
The panellists stressed that cooperation is not the same as collaboration. Trust, honest dialogue, an openness to diversity, and empathy were among the factors that need to be a part of working in collaboration. But it must also be accompanied by a systemic focus to obtain a shared goal.
Monica Sodre reflected especially on how democracy is being attacked and should take care of. Democracy she said is a value, cannot be underestimated, and is a very recent conquest of society.
The second conference ESG: Companies collaboration against Inequality was moderated by Rodrigo Pipponzzi, co-founder with IDIS of the 1% Movement. The 1% Movement encourages companies to commit to donating 1% – whether from their profit, services, or products. This movement works in collaboration with the other IDIS program called ‘Discover Your Cause’, which I found fascinating.
Three participants from the business sector came around that – for companies in the future – there is no other way than to comply with the ESG principles. But the S of social can be the most difficult. That is why, said Luiza Helena Trajano, Chairwoman of the Board of Magazine Luiza and President of Women of Brazil, NGOs need to cluster and collaborate more among them so the business can work with them because now is imperative for us.
During the dialogue between Sonali Patel, Partner of the Bridgesapan Group, and Paula Fabiani, CEO of IDIS, they conversed about what changes Patel is observing in the way philanthropists are doing their social investments. Sonali mentioned that philanthropists are doing more trust-based grants, more unrestricted funding, and desiring to be closer to the NGO sector and the needs of their grantees fostering more localized donations. Patel also sees that more donors are going to the Global South and that the Global North can learn more about collaboration from the Global South Philanthropy. A very interesting statistic she mentioned is that 75 per cent of collaboration in philanthropy started in 2010 and that 50 per cent of it started in 2015. ‘Collaboration of Funders is growing’, she said.
About the methodologies and networks to strengthen philanthropy, Giovanni Harvey, CEO of the Baoba Fund for Racial Equity, stressed the need for information and data to give resources in an educated way. Donzelina Barroso, from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, mentioned that their approach is to work on Systems not only on one specific effect or partial approach. Cassio Franca, Secretary General of GIFE, said that 93 per cent of philanthropic money in Brazil is granted in collaboration with other donors and partners, and 63 per cent of the 650 members of GIFE participate actively in a network.
In the panel on the power of territories, exploring paths for local transformations, the session looked at how the forces of impact investment bring business strength to support local development and the model of community institutes and foundations can contribute to strengthening local actors while establishing links with external publics, fostering collaboration, creating connections for impact and fostering a culture of local giving and collaboration.
Hermes de Sousa, Founder of Cacimba Institute, an institute that serves a community of 45 thousand in Sao Paulo, used to be considered the second most dangerous community and now hasn’t had a murder in eight years, said that they need people who know how to deal with money. Lúcia Dellagnelo, Founder of ICOM and President of CIEB, mentioned examples of how a systemic development of territory is more powerful and lasting when the community is engaged, and the web of relationships is better understood by those who experience them in their daily lives. Likewise, they can act with constancy and agility, when necessary. Speaking on the panel, I explained how the creation of social structures like the community foundations model allows flexibility, transparency, and the correct and agile management of local and foreign resources for the local good.
We’re in an era of change – philanthropy included
I think the Forum showed that the field of philanthropy is in a changing era. The last era was of the ‘diseased donor’ and now we are in the ‘living donor’ with technology, information, data, and systemic approaches where business, government (in some cases), and NGOs are collaborating in a way to go far and faster in this world of incredible changes where VUCAH (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity, and Hyper-connectivity) is king.
We can develop the economic capacity of people to attack inequality. We are understanding that local is important and collaboration tops in very crystal and focused ways. The pandemic showed us that values are back at the centre of conversations, and collaboration is the way, the only way to survive.
Agustin Landa is the founder of Landa Zambrano Asociados and Alliance magazine’s Regional Representative in Latin America. This article was written in collaboration with Paola Arizpe and Vivian Calles.