Interview with Carol Civita (£)


Alliance magazine


Carol Civita

A disposition to give is not the same as a culture of philanthropy, argues Brazilian philanthropist Carol Civita. Brazil has always had the one but still lacks the other, she tells Caroline Hartnell. Part of the problem is that Brazilians see social problems as the government’s business, but in her view the country needs partnerships between the public sector and private philanthropy if social development is to catch up with economic development. But foundations are beginning to talk to each other, she says, a big step forward.

What role is philanthropy playing in Brazil at the moment?
Brazilians have always been noted for being charitable, but it was reflexive giving – giving to people in need without any deeper thought behind it. If you think of emergencies, if you think of natural disasters, Brazilians tend to be very charitable. But once this moment has passed, there is no sequel. What I see at this moment is that people are starting to realize that they want to focus, that they want their assets to go towards something that is organized and for the long term. So this is the basic change.

But it’s still very small and I do not consider Brazil as having a real philanthropic culture yet. I don’t like to call charity philanthropy – I think they are two very different things. Philanthropy is something that you have to be involved in; you have to understand the cause with which you are involved and you have to have a long-term plan. As for charity, it’s something very much of the moment, much more emotional than logical.

Do you think the fact that people see social problems as the government’s business is a barrier to philanthropy?
Definitely. People do not yet understand the idea of private philanthropy and the public sector working together. This is the biggest issue today I would say. Some people say, ‘there is no legislation, there are no benefits.’ But it’s more than that. I think that there is no consciousness of the importance of private philanthropy in social development. The public sector itself still does not realize how big the effect of private philanthropy could be. The ideal situation would be having private philanthropy and the public sector working together and it is starting to happen, but very slowly, for instance in education.

Carol Civita is a philanthropist, committed to strengthening the growing philanthropic sector in Brazil.

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