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The WINGS blog has moved!

Posted By WINGS, Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Philanthropy In Focus has moved! Join us at the new WINGS blog on Wordpress: Follow the new blog and comment on all the latest news from the WINGS global network. And don't forget to subscribe to our monthly eNews: WINGS Dispatch.

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Reflections from the UN DCF Special Policy Dialogue

Posted By WINGS, Thursday, May 2, 2013

Millennium Development Goals:
Taking stock, scaling up, reaching out

By Christopher de la Torre

A Special Policy Dialogue hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 23 April brought together a diverse group of stakeholders in the sector to brainstorm new ideas for advancing global development beyond the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2015 target date. WINGS co-organised the event with ECOSOC, UNDP, UNDESA, and the OECD Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (net-FWD).

MDGs form a blueprint to mobilise efforts to improve the lives of the world's economic poor, and range from halving extreme poverty rates and containing the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education.

The goals are ambitious but necessary, and success dictates an increase in transparency and collaboration across sectors. It was clear during the one-day meeting how much work is left to do to achieve these goals, yet a general sense of optimism characterised the exchange—this in the face of limited resources and a seemingly unsurmountable store of global data. Salient themes included partnerships, scaling up, accountability, measurements, and innovation.

The first session, moderated by Matthew Bishop of The Economist, looked at what has and hasn't worked thus far. Bishop rebranded coalition as posse—an ad hoc group that forms around a specific issue—underscoring how success in the field hinges on key partnerships and collaborative efforts.

Sigrid Kaag (UNDP) believes that "partnership is about having a shared vision and agreeing on a way forward," and to Dr. Gannet El Samalouty (Sawiris Foundation for Social Development), addressing global development challenges is a shared responsibility that demands a more complex architecture of cooperation. Sundaa Bridgett-Jones (Rockefeller Foundation) described a "forward-looking posture" regarding support for innovations, and emphasised the need to think differently about how development is done, citing The Bellagio Initiative as one example of how innovation value chains can both unlock the potential of private capital and influence policy.

Everyone wants to be catalytic but we must ask, 'who wants to be the substrate?' Tatiana Filgueiras, Ayrton Senna Foundation

The second session, moderated by WINGS Board Member Barbara Ibrahim, focused on innovation and scaling up. Ibrahim described innovation as coming about in one of two ways: during thoughtful reflection following failure, or when it is forced upon us, as with the Arab Spring. Field hospitals that sprung up overnight at Tahrir Square in Cairo were good examples of how crowdsourcing can be beneficial. In this case, activists used text messages to mobilise critical supplies, demonstrating the value of harnessing human capital during a crisis. (The method worked so well, Egypt has since formalised it.)

As the discussion continued, crowdsourcing turned to data, and human capital to innovation. David Lynn (Wellcome Trust) discussed medical tech innovations in India, including a new tablet being trialed and software apps for online storage, decision support and reporting. Jeffrey Falkenstein (The Foundation Center) explained that a lack of global standards has alienated philanthropy from the Big Data space, suggesting that organisations learn how to give data as well as receive it, further emphasising the role of transparency in building partnerships that work. Tatiana Filgueiras (Ayrton Senna Foundation) added, "Everyone wants to be catalytic but we must ask, 'who wants to be the substrate?'"

Interim discussions were lively. Neelam Makhijani (The Resource Alliance) felt that philanthropy should not be seen as separate from development, but instead as a development index. Edmund J. Cain (Conrad Hilton Foundation), Nick Deychakiwsky (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation) and others weighed in. Speakers also included Graham Macmillan (Citi Foundation) and Navid Hanif (UNDESA). UN ECOSOC President H.E. Néstor Osorio opened the meeting with Thomas Stelzer (UNDESA) and Sigrid Kaag (UNDP).

Adding to the overall success of the day, WINGS joined a live tweeting event, using #phil2015 to share real-time comments and resources from the panel, and exchange questions with others on Twitter. I came away from the event with a deeper appreciation of the scope of the Millennium Development Goals, and of global philanthropy in general. Navid Hanif (UNDESA) closed with a reminder that the United Nations is fully committed to fostering a shared understanding across sectors. This gives me big hope for the future.

Our Knowledge Generation & Dissemination programme is committed to promoting data and information as powerful tools for the development of philanthropy worldwide. Christopher de la Torre is the Managing Editor for WINGS.

Tags:  Bellagio Initiative  Foundation Center  Resource Alliance  staff notes  UN 

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Philanthropic foundations engaged in post-2015 development agenda

Posted By WINGS, Friday, April 26, 2013

This article was first published on the United Nations Development Programme website on 24 April 2013. The original press release can be found here. For more information on the event, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter with #phil2015.

New York — The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) hosted on 23 April a special event with philanthropic foundations from around the world to generate new ideas for advancing the global development agenda beyond the 2015 target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The one-day meeting, organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the OECD Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD) and the Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), brought over 60 representatives from philanthropic organizations together with senior representatives from UN Member States.

The event is part of an ongoing effort to scale up innovative approaches to philanthropic engagement in development and to accelerate MDG implementation.

Purpose and discussions

The event provided an opportunity for ongoing dialogue with philanthropic foundations to examine what would motivate and facilitate their engagement in development cooperation post-2015. It also explored how successful partnerships between the foundations themselves, as well as with Governments, UN agencies, and international and local non-governmental organizations, could be scaled up and replicated.

"Private philanthropic foundations are becoming key actors in development, contributing thought leadership, expertise and financial support to realise tangible development outcomes,” said Sigrid Kaag, Assistant Secretary-General at UNDP.

Motivated by a focus on results and social impact, philanthropic organizations increasingly invest in anti-poverty projects that use new approaches and technologies, and support scientific research.

"Making strategic investments in people and their own initiatives is a priority,” said the Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, Sundaa Bridgett-Jones. "We need to be thinking of new ways of doing business and how we can be supportive of opportunities from others who are thinking differently.”

A global e-discussion was facilitated by UNDP and WINGS prior to the event, allowing a broad range of stakeholders to contribute inputs.

"People expect and demand ownership of the agenda. So the voice of the people must be heard,” said the Executive Director of the Egypt-based Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, Gannat El Samalouty.

Today, at a separate ECOSOC Partnership Event, ECOSOC President Néstor Osorio reiterated the "great benefit in collecting and widely sharing, through ECOSOC, good practices of multi-stakeholder partnerships and information on the work of foundations.”

Philanthropic organizations and development partnerships post-2015

Many philanthropic organizations campaign for the MDGs and have entered into partnerships with other stakeholders to achieve them.

"As for all development partners, it is crucial to ensure that philanthropic organizations’ activities align with national development priorities,” said Thomas Stelzer, Assistant-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs of UNDESA.

With the increasingly important role of private philanthropic foundations and other actors in supporting national development efforts, coordination at country level is emerging as a critical issue.


Philanthropic organizations have become more engaged in shaping public policy and driving change on pressing issues at country level, including through targeted advocacy.

"Foundations are also keen to push forward innovative approaches to tackling development challenges, such as enterprise philanthropy,” says Bathylle Missika, Deputy Head of Division, Policy Dialogue, OECD Development Center. "This is one of the priorities for the 20+ members strong OECD network which brings together foundations interested in sharing knowledge and engaging in policy dialogue with Governments.”

The philanthropic sector has dramatically increased in size and evolved over the last decade. It now covers a broad spectrum of different philanthropic actors, who vary significantly in the way they are funded, their focus and approaches. Their activities in international development cooperation range from grant making to new forms of venture philanthropy. Many of them increasingly engage in partnerships with other actors.

Next steps

The key policy messages and outcomes of the event will feed into ongoing discussions and initiatives geared towards shaping development collaboration in the post-2015 setting, including:

  • The Ethiopia High-Level Symposium in preparation for the 2014 Development Cooperation Forum (6-7 June 2013), focusing on a renewed global partnership for development in a post-2015 era.
  • The High-Level Segment of the 2013 Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council (July 2013).
  • The Ministerial Meeting of the Busan Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation (October 2013).
  • Discussions of the OECD Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD) and initiatives of other global and regional networks.

The event was attended by foundations from around the world, including the Mott Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from the United States; Sawiris Foundation for Social Development from Egypt; Anti-AIDS Foundation from Ukraine; Wellcome Trust from the United Kingdom; and Princess Al-Anood Foundation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This event was co-organised by The United Nations Economic and Social Council, UNDP, UNDESA, the OECD Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (net-FWD) and WINGS. Follow the WINGS blog for updates.

Tags:  UN 

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Job Announcement: Executive Director, Arab Human Rights Fund, Lebanon

Posted By WINGS, Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Arab Human Rights Fund (AHRF) is a not-for-profit philanthropic organization that supports the promotion and realization of human rights through grants to human rights initiatives in the Arab region.

In its fifth year of operation, the Fund seeks an experienced, creative and energetic Executive Director to carry out its ambitious programs. Under her/his able leadership the Fund should make major strides in supporting groups to realize the vision of enjoyment of all human rights by all in the Arab region. The ideal candidate will combine good experience in human rights, Grantmaking, institution-building, and fundraising with excellent knowledge of the Arab region.

More details can be found here.

Tags:  AHRF 

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New WINGS member: The Social Return on Investment Network (SROI)

Posted By WINGS, Thursday, April 18, 2013


SROI is a framework based on social generally accepted accounting principles that can be used to help manage and understand the social, economic and environmental outcomes created by your activity or organisation. Social Return on Investment (SROI) aims to increase social equality, environmental sustainability and wellbeing. The SROI Network’s mission is to change the way the world accounts for value that enables better decision-making and ultimately, achievement of the vision for SROI.

SROI is based on seven principles:

  1. Involve stakeholders: Understand the way in which the organisation creates change through a dialogue with stakeholders.
  2. Understand what changes: Acknowledge and articulate all the values, objectives and stakeholders of the organisation before agreeing which aspects of the organisation are to be included in the scope; and determine what must be included in the account in order that stakeholders can make reasonable decisions.
  3. Value the things that matter: Use financial proxies for indicators in order to include the values of those excluded from markets in same terms as used in markets.
  4. Only include what is material: Articulate clearly how activities create change and evaluate this through the evidence gathered.
  5. Do not over-claim: Make comparisons of performance and impact using appropriate benchmarks, targets and external standards.
  6. Be transparent: Demonstrate the basis on which the findings may be considered accurate and honest; and showing that they will be reported to and discussed with stakeholders.
  7. Verify the result: Ensure appropriate independent verification of the account.

Visit the SROI website.

Tags:  SROI 

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New WINGS member: Comunalia

Posted By WINGS, Thursday, April 18, 2013


In August 2011 fourteen community foundations from all over Mexico formed Comunalia (Alianza de Fundaciones Comunitarias de México/Mexico’s Community Foundations Network). The first community foundation in Mexico was founded in 1996, and most of Comunalia’s members were set up at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2009 these organisations saw the need and opportunity to work together, and started discussions in a collective effort to join forces and improve their work through unity and representation. The network was formalized during a meeting in Guadalajara, three years after the initial discussions, and Comunalia is now an association funded by annual dues paid by its members.

Comunalia’s main purpose is to strengthen and give visibility to the work of its members, increasing their impact and therefore contributing to a sustainable, equitable and participatory development in Mexico. The intention is to stimulate the replication of the community foundation model in the country and build partnerships with other actors (government, academia, civil society, etc.).

Comunalia is present in 13 Mexican states: Baja California, Chihuahua, Estado de México, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Sonora and Tamaulipas. Comunalia’s members work on a number of issues, ranging from education, culture, local development, health, environment, housing, ecotourism, capacity building, communication and employment, to citizen participation, philanthropy and social responsibility. Their constituencies include all of those facing social disadvantage - children, youth, women, men, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.


Corporativa de Fundaciones (Jalisco)
Fundación Comunidad (Morelos)
Fundación Comunitaria Cozumel (Quintana Roo)
Fundación Comunitaria del Bajío (Guanajuato)
Fundación Comunitaria Frontera Norte (Cd. Juárez, Chih)
Fundación Comunitaria Malinalco (Edo. de México)
Fundación Comunitaria Matamoros (Tamaulipas)
Fundación Comunitaria Oaxaca
Fundación Comunitaria Puebla
Fundación Comunitaria Punta de Mita (Nayarit)
Fundación Comunitaria Querétaro
Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense, A.C.
Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense

Fundación Internacional de la Comunidad (Tijuana, B.C.).

Governing body

Executive Director: Laura Trejo

President: David Pérez - Corporativa de Fundaciones

Beatriz Pineda Bours – Fundación Comunidad
Debbie Acevedo - Fundación Comunitaria Puebla IBP.
Diana Chávarri (Fundación Comunitaria de la Frontera Norte)
Luis Ruíz (Fundación Comunitaria Oaxaca)
Juan Carlos Ruíz (Fundación del Empresario Sonorense, A.C.)
Leslie Carrasco de la O (FECHAC - Fundación del Empresario Chihuahuense).

Tags:  Comunalia 

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Ruth Jones on Venture Philanthropy

Posted By WINGS, Thursday, April 18, 2013


"Good philanthropy doesn't exist in a vacuum. It exists when people are sharing experiences (what worked, what didn't), hearing good ideas—adapting and adopting them."

On 23rd April at the United Nations in New York, the second Development Cooperation Forum Special Policy Dialogue will examine the role of private philanthropic organisations in international development cooperation. Part of its focus on key innovations in the sector is venture philanthropy, the growing trend of adopting principles and methods from the corporate sector. A number of WINGS members and network participants are pioneers of the burgeoning field, including the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) whose inaugural Annual Conference is slated for next month.

Meanwhile, the European Venture Philanthropy (VP) and Social Investment (SI) sector continues to evolve. A new report published by the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), provides key statistics and raises awareness so as to attract further resources for the sector. WINGS Managing Editor Chris de la Torre met with Ruth Jones, Executive Director of Social Venture Partners (SVP) and WINGS board member, to recap her involvement with AVPN and talk briefly about what makes SVP different.

WINGS: How do you define venture philanthropy and how does it fit into the broader philanthropic and social investment communities in asia, and what progress is being made on these fronts in that region?

Ruth Jones: I would say that we've got a new definition these days of philanthropy. Philanthropy is grant dollars, so it's financial capital. It's programmatic capital, which is coming from the nonprofits that are coming up with innovative solutions to social problems. And we would say that human capital is also a crucial ingredient. It's like a three-legged stool; philanthropy with the most impact is going to combine financial, human, and program capital.

It [Roadshow 2012] was a fascinating experience. There was tremendous interest. There must have been 60 or more people in each city that engaged in conversations with us about venture philanthropy in their communities. And it was enormously encouraging to see the variety of people and organisations that we met along the way: family foundations, corporate social responsibility divisions of major companies, individuals, people from the private equity and venture capital sector, nonprofit leaders, social entrepreneurs and social innovators—a wonderful mix at every destination.

WINGS: With regard to practitioners and supporters sharing best practices, what is the best case scenario you've seen in your travels, both in Asia and elsewhere, and what might make the "best case" better?

RJ: Good philanthropy doesn't exist in a vacuum. It exists when people are sharing experiences (what worked, what didn't), hearing good ideas—adapting and adopting them. I'm obviously a great fan of organisations like AVPN because it provides the platform in which practitioners from a whole range of entities can come together to learn. You could say that an organisation like AVPN is a learning lab—a learning community. I found that in each city where we came together with members of AVPN and local philanthropy participants that it felt very much like that to me—a community where we could share experiences and learn from each other.

WINGS: Curating is probably a word best left to art, but is what you're doing with venture philanthropy in any way similar?

RJ: It's creating a community where there are thinkers, practitioners, leaders. What you need is to provide a place where all the players come together—the people providing the money, providing the ideas, people who can evaluate those ideas, people who can say 'listen I'm the client group and this did not work, for these reasons'. Some people would say it's curating a community, I would say it's bringing together the people who have a stake in this.

WINGS: One of those people is Shaks Ghosh from the Private Equity Foundation, a fellow speaker in the road show. How do you complement each other?

RJ: I'll let Shaks speak for herself, but I think that we are alike in that each of us regards human capital as absolutely essential to philanthropy that is going to have an impact. Dollars alone are not sufficient. Both of our organisations believe that bringing human capital—strategic, thoughtful experienced people who are ready to coach, mentor, advise, offer strategic consultancy services—is crucial to enabling a nonprofit organisation to fulfill its mission to its highest potential.

Where we differ is that SVP is in 30 cities and most of our giving and strategic human capital support to nonprofits is delivered to local nonprofits, whereas the Private Equity Foundation supports a small number of charities with much larger grants. So very different in terms of the number of organisations they work with and the sum of money involved. Our grants are quite small—25 to 50K—we are never the major grantmaker in an organisation. We are generally the largest supplier of strategic volunteering or strategic philanthropy support. The SVP network is currently working with about 160 organisations across those 30 cities. The Private Equity Foundation is working very intensively with six charities, so you see the difference in the model.

WINGS: You've mentioned that you find it stimulating to hear about different approaches in Asia and that there's a lot going on there. What challenges do you see in Asia, and what can you say about the different audiences that now exist there?

RJ: I have to be clear that I do not have a significant background in philanthropy in Asia. I was there because SVP has particular expertise in marrying financial capital and human capital and finding nonprofits, and that's been our recipe. SVP is an intermediary organisation that brings together people with skills and experience and matches them with nonprofits that are making a difference. So that's why I was there, because SVP is a practitioner of a certain brand of venture philanthropy. But for me, I was learning about who are the participants in Asia. I heard a lot of interest in the role of social enterprise in Asia, and the role of impact investing. People were looking for ways in which venture philanthropy could incorporate human capital and use it effectively.

There are some premises of venture capital. You stay with an organisation for the long term. You build its internal capacity so that the organisation is strong, stable, high-functioning. You work with the organisation to develop appropriate evaluation tools so that you're able to gauge the impact that the organisation is having. You invest in the organisation so that long term it can have the most effect. Those are the staples of venture philanthropy.

To really build the internal capacity of an organisation, so that it can really deliver in its program area you've really got to look at its mission, vision and planning, program design and make sure that it has great evaluation processes in place, its HR planning, senior management and team leadership, information technology, financial management, fund development, board leadership, legal affairs, marketing communications and external relations. These are all factors that have to be considered and invested in.

WINGS: Anything to add about the inaugural AVPN Annual Conference in May?

RJ: The Chairperson of Social Venture Partners International, Lance Fors, will be there. I know he's looking forward to it. It's going to be a time and place where people who are deeply committed to venture philanthropy in Asia can come together, and I believe it will be a huge learning opportunity.

Image of Ruth Jones via Lien Centre for Social Innovation.

Visit the Social Venture Partners website.

Tags:  AVPN  interview  SVPI  UN 

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Reflections from the CoF Annual Conference

Posted By WINGS, Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Global Engagement

By Ashley Harper

As technology continues to advance at what seems like lightning speed, the world around us becomes smaller and more interconnected, affecting everything from business to politics to entertainment, all the way to philanthropy. Some feel that philanthropy has some catching up to do in this new global, data-driven age.

The Council on Foundations addressed this at its 2013 Annual Conference, Vision and Action, held from 7-9 April in Chicago, Illinois. The conference included a full day of preconference sessions dedicated to global philanthropy—what the Council called "A Global Engagement.” John Harvey, the Council on Foundations’ Managing Director for Global Philanthropy and WINGS Board member, was responsible for designing the day’s events.

The opening session focused on how, in many places around the world, rules governing civil society are getting stricter. This affects the ability of civil society to do its work as well as the capacity of funders to support that work. Doug Rutzen, President and CEO of International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, talked about this unique moment in time where, in numerous countries, lawyers are often on the front lines, "at war with the law.” He went on to say that they are fighting instances in which the law tramples the rights of citizens rather than builds them up, and discussed the many challenges this presents to civil society organisations. Joshua Mintz, VP and General Counsel for the MacArthur Foundation, followed Rutzen by laying out practices the MacArthur Foundation uses to work within this reality, including ensuring safety and preparedness of those on the ground before focusing on program strategies.

Six speakers in the afternoon each brought a TED-style presentation of their own "bold idea for global philanthropy.” Amidst a range of topics, one key emergent theme was data in philanthropy.

Lucy Bernholz of Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society discussed how our world is in the midst of a transition, moving from "analog-based” (where the rules about money govern society), to "digital-based” (where the rules are centered on data). Jennifer Lentfer, Founder of, addressed the challenge of striking a balance between the values of philanthropy versus all of the measurements and results now possible due to this influx of data. Lentfer acknowledged the crucial role of data-driven results, but contrasted this against the immeasurable value of the stories behind the data. She quoted Einstein who said, "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Finally, GuideStar President and CEO Jacob Harold talked about the value of data’s capacity to improve decision-making, but how at present most people are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information. Harold made the point that while we gather data faster than we gather information, we gather information faster than we gather knowledge and we gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom. He admitted there will likely always be lag time between data turning into knowledge or wisdom, but offered a way to drastically shorten that lag time: a solid data system he calls the "scaffolding of social change.”

Conversations throughout the day demonstrated the major challenges for those involved in global philanthropy, but they also gave some encouraging evidence of progress and an ever-increasing level of interest in the field.

Our Knowledge Generation & Dissemination programme is committed to promoting data and information as powerful tools for the development of philanthropy worldwide. Ashley Harper is the Programme Coordinator for WINGS. 

Tags:  COF  staff notes 

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2013 Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize winners announced

Posted By WINGS, Monday, April 15, 2013

It is with great pleasure and pride that we announce the first winners of the Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize: Jane Weru and Kingsley Mucheke of the Akiba Mashinani Trust, Kenya.


In choosing Jane Weru and Kingsley Mucheke, the judges felt strongly that "they represented best the full range of the award’s purposes". In the words of the award criteria, they "demonstrated remarkable leadership, creativity and results in developing philanthropy for progressive social change in an emerging market country or countries".

The judges were all impressed by the explicit focus of Jane and Kingsley on the most marginalized community in Kenya—landless slum dwellers—and by the way they have developed a philanthropic mechanism to support transformational efforts by that community. "In terms of potential to transform realities, their work strikes me the most", commented one judge. "They seem to have found a truly innovative way to tackle systemic and behavioral challenges, and created a model that generates amazing impact which combines sustainability and scale", said another.

Just as we found creating a shortlist a hard task, so our judges noted "the difficulty of making a decision among such an impressive set of finalists who represent very different contexts for the development of philanthropy. All of the finalists have made substantial contributions in their respective countries and have done so in very different ways. They all deserve recognition for their important contributions". They explicitly congratulated the other finalists for their leadership and dedication.

We too would like to congratulate Jane and Kingsley and the other finalists as well. Each one of them would have made a worthy winner. If you haven’t already done so, you can read all about their achievements in a special Alliance supplement. The prize will be presented in July at the International Forum on Emerging Markets, Emerging Philanthropies in Peterhof, Russia.

more »

The Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize is for an individual who has demonstrated remarkable leadership, creativity and results in developing philanthropy for progressive social change in an emerging market country or countries. Photo: Jane Weru (left) and Kingsley Mucheke via GFCF.

Tags:  Alliance Magazine  CAF  GFCF 

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Promoting a better legal environment for philanthropy in Brazil

Posted By WINGS, Wednesday, April 10, 2013

This article by was originally published on the Latest from Alliance blog on 9 April 2013. The original article can be found here. For more information about Alliance magazine, please visit

Brazil has experienced significant wealth growth in the last two decades, and has now reached the status of the 7th largest economy in the world, with the 11th largest number of millionaires (according to the World Wealth Report).

A similar trend has also been observed in other BRICS countries. Brazilian philanthropy, however, has not followed this increase in wealth. The World Giving Index published by CAF in 2012 reveals that when it comes to donating money Brazil ranks only 68th among the 146 countries surveyed. Compared to other countries, Brazil has a long way to go in order to exploit its philanthropic potential to the fullest. Countries such as Australia, Canada and Chile occupy respectively the 2nd, 10th and 25th positions in the World Giving Index.

One aspect that inhibits the development of philanthropy in Brazil is the poor legal environment for donations. Brazil lacks a specific legislation for the institution of endowments and trusts. In that matter, some BRICS countries seem to be ahead: Indian laws allow the institution of endowments; Russia passed legislation in 2006 to regulate the establishment of endowments; in South Africa, the National Treasury is analyzing a proposal to create legislation that will incentivize donating to endowments. In Brazil, money donated to non-profit organizations gets taxed in the same way as money inherited by individuals. There are very few incentives in place to promote long-term philanthropy, which has led civil society to start debating the subject and demanding more.

Over recent months some important initiatives have spiced up this scenario: for example, a multidisciplinary study group, bringing together non-profit organizations with government representatives, academics, lawyers and donors, was formed to discuss and propose a specific legislation for establishing endowments in Brazil. Proposals built and discussed within the group have already been presented at a workshop promoted by the government. The event intended to map out and discuss concrete measures to foster philanthropy in the country. Besides that, two important publications – also aimed at promoting strategic philanthropy – were issued last year – one contains meaningful reflections about governance, while the other provides a thorough guide on how to create and manage an endowment in Brazil.

In this context, it is vital that the existing Brazilian philanthropic community realizes the importance of advocating for an enabling environment for philanthropy. How could Brazil learn from countries with a longer history of philanthropy? How could the experiences of other BRICS countries help Brazil in advancing and improving its legal system for philanthropy?

Paula Jancso Fabiani is executive director of IDIS (Institute for the Development of Social Investment) in Brazil, a member of CAF Global Alliance. This article is part of a series by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

Tags:  Alliance Magazine  CAF  Latin America 

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