At the beginning of September, Paula Jancso Fabiani took over from Marcos Kisil as president of Brazil’s Institute for the Development of Social Investment (IDIS). She talks to Caroline Hartnell about an advocacy role for IDIS, developing a culture of giving in Brazil, the role of tax incentives, the credibility of NGOs, and the role of women in the country’s non-profit sector. Below, Marcos Kisil talks about the early days of IDIS, the challenges ahead and the leadership transition.
I’d like to start by asking you what you hope to achieve in your new role as president of IDIS?
Recent experience suggests that IDIS could have an effective advocacy role. We have done quite important work putting together a study group to work on the topic of endowments. There is no legislation regulating endowments at the moment, so if the board of an organization decides to spend all the money intended for an endowment in one year, there’s no protection for the endowment to prevent that happening. Nor are there any tax incentives for donations to an endowment. At the moment, an individual donor pays tax on the part of the income they donate and the recipient organization pays tax on the donation, too. So it’s very hard to establish endowments.
The group has drafted the proposal for a law that is now before the Brazilian congress. This experience has shown us the capacity of IDIS to bring people together around an idea to come up with solutions. We can now advocate for a better legal environment for philanthropy in Brazil.
Carol Civita says in her August interview for Alliance that she doesn’t think that tax legislation is a big issue for philanthropy in Brazil. Do you agree?
I don’t. I feel that once you have tax incentives, even if people are not motivated to donate because of tax planning, they start doing something. Once you start, you become really involved and it becomes part of your practice. So I believe tax incentives can have this ‘first moving’ effect on giving.
I agree with Carol, though, that a better regulatory environment is key. Brazil’s current regulatory environment is not favourable for giving, which is why we decided to focus some effort on endowment legislation – that would be one step in the right direction. For the last 10 years, the third sector in Brazil has been discussing the idea of one general law for the sector. At the moment, what we have is more of a patchwork of legislation, which makes compliance complicated.