Ten things you (probably) didn’t know about philanthropy in Latin America

The following was originally published by Philanthropy Impact Magazine on 2 March 2014. The original can be found here.

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Contributors include: Andre Degenszjain (Brazil); Carolina Suarez, AFE (Columbia); Carolina Langan, GDFE (Argentina); Jorge Villalobos, CEMEFI (Mexico); and Helena Monteiro, WINGS.

1. Most countries in Latin America use the term Private Social Investment, rather than Philanthropy, to refer to the allocation of private resources for the common good. The emphasis is on interventions that support social change and social justice, rather than on charity that maintains the status quo.

2. Private Social Investment in Latin America is growing not only in financial resources, but also in knowledge, networking and human capital.

3. Social contributions from large companies in Latin American have shifted from traditional charity to strategic philanthropy, seeking interventions that generate sustainable impact and improving the corporate social responsibility (CSR) sector.

4. Traditional areas of intervention, such as education, health and poverty, have been historically the priority. Nevertheless, in the past years, the sector has increased and diversified and the scope of interest has broadened to include supporting issues such as the environment, entrepreneurship, citizenship, transparency and human rights.

5. Until the year 2000, family foundations were the philanthropic leaders in Latin America. Since then, there has been a growing interest from corporations to become involved in social investing, which has generated a proliferation of corporate foundations in the region.

6. Corporate giving has increased and diversified to include corporate volunteering, corporate social programs and corporate foundations. In Mexico, data from 2010 reveals that corporate foundations donated 32% of total grants and represented 26% of the total number of grant-makers. This has also generated increased media and academic attention resulting in an increase in the number of specialised publications on this subject being produced.

7. Today, there are four associations in the region that provide services and support to corporate foundations and CSR: Centro Mexicano para la Filantropia – Mexican Center for Philanthropy (CEMEFI, Mexico), Grupo de Institutos Fundacoes e Empresas – Group of Institutes, Foundations and Corporations (GIFE, Brazil), Group of Institutes, Foundations and Corporations (GDFE, Argentina) and Associacion de Fundaciones Empresariales – Association of Corporate Foundations (AFE, Colombia).

8. The region has also seen the emergence of groups lead by representatives of the private sector moving towards not only supporting but also leading and advocating for relevant social causes; such as: “Mexicanos Primero”(Mexico), Empresarios por la Educacion (Colombia), Todos Pela Educação (Brazil), Proyecto Educar 2050 (Argentina).

9. Corporate Foundations are increasingly aware of the importance of transparency and accountability and everyday more of them are adopting accountability principles.

10. Recent anti-money laundering regulation identifies donations as a vulnerable activity which has resulted in stricter reporting, retaining and safeguarding of information and documentation requirements being imposed. We see a growing importance for social investors to collaborate and provide the appropriate donor information required.


Latin America and the Caribbean is one of six regions represented by the WINGS global network. Regional Highlights is one of four programme tracks for concurrent sessions for WINGSForum 2014: The Power of Networks. Follow on Twitter with #WFnetworks.

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