Brazil-Arab News Agency: Palestinian heads global philanthropic chain

This article was originally published by the Brazil-Arab News Agency on 1 October 2013. The original article can be found here.

image: Aurea Santos/ANBA

By Aurea Santos

São Paulo – Recently established in the city of São Paulo, Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) is a chain that brings together other philanthropic groups worldwide. The organisation’s work is to offer training, guidance and information and experience exchange between hundreds of humanitarian organisations in several parts of the world. And since January this year, these activities have been under the responsibility of an Arab, the Palestinian Atallah Kuttab.

Born in Jerusalem, Kuttab graduated in engineering and has already taught at universities in Palestine and Scotland. He is 59 years old and has dedicated himself to the philanthropic sector for 20. Currently, he lives in Jordan, where he also presides Saaned, a not-for-profit organisation that operates for the sustainable development of the Arab countries. In his first trip to Brazil, for one of the organisation’s four annual meetings, he spoke to ANBA about the work developed by Wings and about the main philanthropic challenge for Brazil and the Arab nations.

“Wings provides information about global philanthropy. Each one knows about its region, but the information for several regions is collected by Wings. If I want to know what is happening in Latin America, I go to Wings to find such information. If you want to know what is going on in the Arab world, you contact Wings, and they connect you to the region or provide you with that information. There is also training in several areas of philanthropy,” he explained.

The executive pointed out that Wings brings together 150 philanthropic networks worldwide. “This, in fact, covers most of the chains worldwide. Wings members are not regional foundations, but donor networks. In the Arab world, we have the Forum of Arab Foundations, which represents the entire region, from Morocco to the Gulf, and so on. The European Foundation has over 150 members and participates as a single Wings member,” said the executive, regarding the group’s coverage.

In Brazil, two philanthropic organisations are Wings members: the Institute for Development of Social Investment (IDIS) and the Group of Institutions, Foundations and Enterprises (GIFE). Both of these organisations operate in the transfer of private funds to public services. “New members are joining all the time. If you check in two months’ time, you will see that there are new members in Brazil,” pointed out the executive.

Established in 1999, Wings used to move to new headquarters every four years, and has already been in Europe, the United States and the Philippines. In 2011, the council concluded that it would be better to have fixed offices, and Brazil was chosen to house the organisation. “Brazil offers the best work environment for philanthropy. We thought about Africa and Asia. We were looking to the South, as the Wings objective is to strengthen the philanthropic voice in the countries of the South. Philanthropy in North America and Europe is strong and we want to build a strong philanthropic chain in other regions, so that we can create a global philanthropic network that may contribute throughout itself,” he said.

Regarding the countries of the southern axis, Kuttab said that he sees great similarity in the challenges faced by philanthropy in Brazil and in the Arab world. “We have a problem, especially with youths, and that may be applied to both regions. They do not feel that they have a voice, they feel they have no future, no opportunities. They feel that the years they spent on education will not result in a good job, and if they find a job, it will not grant them enough money to live decently and with integrity. These are the similarities,” he said.

“We encourage philanthropy in Brazil and in the Arab world to focus on these matters. We will only have a stable society if youths feel that their country represents them, that they are living with integrity, that they are having opportunities and rights. Poverty is another matter, poor neighbourhoods in large cities. But if you focus on youths, you tend to solve these points,” he said.

To Kuttab, it is important for Wings to establish itself in Brazil and start offering more services to its members. In March 2014, Wings is going to promote its global forum, the group’s main event, organized every four years. The meeting should take place in Istanbul, Turkey, and, to Kuttab, it is one of the main tasks of his administration. “We expect participation of 300 people from all over the world, and this is a great challenge for the coming months, to guarantee that the event in Istanbul may be good and successful for all regions,” he finished off.

Contact Aurea Santos at Translated by Mark Ament.

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