In São Paulo, Brazil, from 19 to 21 March, the Group of Institutes, Foundations and Enterprises (GIFE) held its 8th Congress, one of the most important events for the third sector in Brazil. The Congress has taken place every two years since 2000 and this year had over 850 influential participants. The programme aimed to cover four complementary and related axes: scale, innovation, networks and impact.
In the opening session, GIFE’s CEO Andre Degenszajn reaffirmed the transformative role of private social investment (PSI) and GIFE’s responsibility for disseminating knowledge for its associates and for society, and for advocating for a better regulatory environment – one important aspect that GIFE has not focused on in the last years. Non-profit regulation in Brazil has not seen significant improvements since 1999. And the Brazilian current economic and political context poses to PSI the challenge to reformulate its current strategies to further integrate with civil society and contribute to improve public policies to get really strategic and promote development.
Half of the programme required a paid registration and half was freely open to the public. In the registration-required programme, besides the opening and closing plenary, there were five or six concurrent sessions for participants to choose from. Very hard to make choices with interesting topics such as impact investing, scaling up, PSI and public policies, corporate social responsibility, sustainable cities and mobilization, among others. In the free programme there were seven concurrent sessions, even harder to choose.
In the opening plenary, the keynote speaker Lucy Bernholz from Stanford University reinforced the relevance of digital data for philanthropy and the social economy. Brazilian speakers in this session talked of the importance but timidity of PSI in funding an independent civil society, the disruptive potential of PSI but the need to further develop agility to cope with the fast pace of changes. One aspect that drew my attention was how the claim that PSI should take more risks and embrace innovation was mentioned in more than one session. It made me wonder whether Brazilian PSI is really ready to move forward and do that fully!
Paula Jansco Fabiani, is executive director of IDIS (Institute for the Development of Social Investment) in Brazil.