Group of Institutes, Foundations and Enterprises (GIFE) – Brazil
GIFE is the first South American association of grant makers, uniting privately held organisations that fund or operate social, cultural and environmental projects of public interest. GIFE significantly focuses on developing solutions to overcome Brazil’s social inequalities, whereby its strategic objective resides in influencing public policy by means of partnerships and the sharing of ideas, actions and experiences with the State and other civil society organisations. In pursuing this objective, GIFE bases its work on political-institutional strengthening, empowering and supporting strategic initiatives of its members and that of other organisations, especially those of a business nature.
GIFE has an Institutional Relationship Manager responsible to keep and expand membership in our network. Detailed information on members’ participation in GIFE’s activities (Affinity Groups, Thematic Panels, Congress, political meetings in Brasilia, and so on) is kept by this manager. Yearly we set goals of participation of our members in our activities: it is expected that at least one high ranking staff of each of our members take part in at least one of our activities a year, and that lower ranking personnel also participate in other activities.
When a member does not participate in any of our activities for some months, we contact the member to see what is happening. Sometimes there are wide changes in staff, the whole group changes, and the new professionals (usually not from the philanthropic field and mainly from the corporation itself) do not have any repertoire on civil society etc. They might not even know what GIFE is and what its use is. This happens more often than we would like, and we refer to it as systemic amnesia.
To deal with systemic amnesia we usually run the association process routine all over again with the company. This involves an initial meeting with the head of the philanthropy area and, if possible with high ranking staff of the corporation itself, where we present what GIFE is and how can a member benefit from its association, and raise information on the new leading group’s ideas and repertoire on philanthropy issues. A second phase involves actively and personally inviting the new staff to the activities promoted by GIFE that will be helpful for them (usually new members do not know how to chose which activities are interesting for them). The overall goal is to establish a solid trust relationship with the leading people in the institution.
When we act quickly, the incoming professionals are usually very grateful to GIFE, and it helps to keep the member in our network. When a company has a systemic amnesia, the incoming staff needs to learn very quickly to be effective and show some change to their board or to other people in the workplace (president, CEO etc.). So they find it very helpful to have GIFE give them the basic repertoire on philanthropy and civil society issues, that frequently helps them position the way they will work.