Innovation and inspirational stories from the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum

The following report on the 3rd Brazilian Philanthropy Forum, held in São Paulo, Brazil on 6 November 2014, was provided by the Institute for the Development of Social Investment (IDIS).

bpforum_300 The 3rd Brazilian Forum of Social and Philanthropic Investors, organized by the Institute for the Development of Social Investment (IDIS) and the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF), pointed out the bold face of private social investment in Brazil and in the world, along with inspiring philanthropists’ stories. The event, whose theme was “Innovation and Impact of Social Investment”, was held in São Paulo on 6th November, and attracted major names in Brazilian philanthropy and leading foreign speakers.

During the presentation, IDIS’ CEO, Paula Fabiani talked about the importance of creativity—as an individual act that requires imagination—and innovation—something that is collective and demands a lot of work. “The programme had been set to inspire reflection and transformation. With that in mind, I invite everyone to think outside the box”, said Fabiani. GPF’s president, Jane Wales, remembered the Forum’s beginnings in Brazil and highlighted the quality of the programme, the speakers and the participants: “The development in Brazil is rapid, but not inclusive. What makes this group remarkable is you all share the commitment to inclusive development in a wonderful country”.

The roundtable “Family Social Investment” brought center stage the motivations of two of the main socially active families in the country. Beatriz Gerdau Johannpeter and Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter told the story of the Gerdau Institute. “Social work is a legacy in our family, which is now in its fifth generation. The creation of the institute was a milestone to ensure the perpetuation of our values”, said Beatriz, who was inspired to pursue social work by her son’s health problems. At the same table, Sandra Regina Mutarelli Setúbal and José Luiz Egydio Setúbal spoke about the work of José Luiz Egydio Setubal Foundation, which created the Institute PENSI for research on Pediatrics.

The forum programme was intense and well diversified. During the day, the roundtable “Private Social Investment and Innovation in Health” included the executive director of The END Fund, Ellen Agler; the director of AbbVie Foundation, Verónica Arroyave; and the representative of Health Secretary of São Paulo, Wilson Modesto Pollara, to discuss the role of the private sector on the social sector, such as on the treatment of neglected diseases and negligible precariousness of hospital care.

The session “Social License: the Impact of Philanthropy” focused on corporate community philanthropy, a big trend in the domestic industry. The director of the Institute C&A, Paulo Castro, mediated the table, which included the manager of Holcim Institute, Juliana Cassilha Andrigueto, the executive director of the Coca-Cola Institute, Daniela Redondo, and Juliana de Lavor Lopes, the director of sustainability of Amaggi, the agroindustrial group that created the André and Lucia Maggi Foundation.

Innovation also set the tone of the session “The Impact of Technology in Leveraging Philanthropy”, mediated by the executive director of WINGS, Helena Monteiro. The executive director of the Arapyaú Institute, Marcelo Furtado, the general secretary of the Roberto Marinho Foundation, Hugo Barreto, and the president of the Banco do Brasil Foundation, José Caetano de Andrade Minchillo, explained how the use of technology affects the work of their organizations.

The plenary “Philanthropy and Sustainable Development Goals”, moderated by senior fellow of Global Philanthropy at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Heather Grady, focused on the role that social investment will have on the post-2015 global agenda, when the Millennium Development Goals will have expired. The participants of the discussion were the representative of Brazil in the Inter-American Development Bank, Daniela Carrera, the director of Votorantim Institute, Cloves Carvalho, and the head of the group of Innovations & Development Alliances Cluster from UNDP, Marcos Neto.

One of the most exciting moments of the forum took place during the session ‘In conversation with…”. The first guest to talk about his work was the musician Peter Buffett, son of billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffet and co-chair of the NoVo Foundation, which works with girls and women’s rights. Interviewed by Helena Monteiro, Peter Buffet, whose organization received $ 1 billion from his father to apply for charitable action, said “philanthropy is a way to have a purpose in life to wake up every day.” On the other hand, according to him, “the best world would be one where everyone had enough and philanthropy would be no longer needed”.

On the second round of talks, Helena Regina Velloso, president of the AACD (Association for Assistance to Deficient Children) and well known philanthropist, and Swanee Hunt, president of Hunt Alternatives, also a philanthropist, and creator of Women Moving Millions shared how they started in philanthropy. While Velloso’s father worked in the same organization, and left the “virus of solidarity as one of his great legacies”, Hunt came from a humble family that later became wealthy and only started to think about philanthropy when one of his brothers was diagnosed as schizophrenic and suffered a lobotomy, which caused them to work with the mentally ill. “I hear a lot about impact investing but there’s no use in doing things if you’re not visiting the sites. It must be close to people and look them in the eye. Philanthropy involves mainly love for each other, not money”, she said, garnering applause from the audience.

Finally, Professor Lester Salamon of Johns Hopkins University presented the results of his research on a model called “Philanthropication thru Privatization”, which has the potential to address billions to philanthropy. The model is the creation of endowments with part of the funds that the state receives from privatizations. “We mapped 539 cases worldwide, which guaranteed assets worth a total of US $139 billion to the private social sector,” Salamon said.

This is the third Brazilian Philanthropy Forum. According to Paula Fabiani, the initiative “has been consolidated as an important space for discussion and a great step towards creating a network of philanthropists in the country”.

IDIS, a member of the WINGS global network, supports private social investors through technical assistance and knowledge dissemination. 

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