In China the number of foundations has tripled in the last few years. It seems a lot, doesn’t it? It seems that the sector is evolving even though there are only around only 3,000 foundations in China. On the other hand, in Brazil the number of non-profits has decreased in the last few years. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Brazil has a little less than 300,000 non-profit organizations. Different countries, very different realities, different philanthropic infrastructures but similar social and environmental problems.
On 1 and 2 July, delegates from 17 countries got together to discuss the role of philanthropy in emerging market economies. The role of philanthropists is reflected in the beautiful buildings, supported by philanthropy, in Peterhof, a gorgeous city next to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where the Emerging Societies, Emerging Philanthropies International Forum took place.
Key questions came out of the sessions such as the importance of sharing information and donor education to speed up strategic philanthropy in each of the participating countries. The need to build a proper infrastructure to promote philanthropy was also emphasized, as was the importance of community philanthropy. Creating frameworks for collaboration with the government should also become more relevant in emerging economies. Mobilizing the local community of donors to act in favour of philanthropy came out as an effective strategy.
The emergence of the middle class and the role of small donations come into sight as a new possible path to fundraising in emerging economies. Tax benefits were mentioned, but not as the major motivation for giving. However, in some emerging market countries, the lack of a proper legal environment is disincentivizing philanthropy.
Getting ahead on areas of possible legislation should be strategic to the sector. Some nations share the problem of the lack of legislation for endowments; some have very different tax incentives for giving; some even lack such tax incentives. Nonetheless, a common trend among most emerging market countries is the recent strengthening of philanthropy, regardless of all obstacles, and the increasing perception of its importance in the development of a country.
The Emerging Societies, Emerging Philanthropies International Forum has offered to its audience evidence of the potential of philanthropy in these countries where the recent abundance of wealth could empower new and innovative examples of citizenship.
Paula Jansco Fabiani is executive director of IDIS (Institute for the Development of Social Investment) in Brazil.
For more information about the Forum