Promoting community and social justice philanthropy

On 8th – 10th July, the Network of Independent Funds for Social Justice convened on Rio de Janeiro with members and partners from different countries to discuss the promotion of social justice philanthropy in Brazil.

During the first two days participants viewed presentations about the political situation in the country from human rights and socio-environmental perspectives. Atila Roque (Amnesty International) and Sérgio Leitão (Greenpeace) explored issues related to inequality, data for social justice, and the false dichotomy between development and rights. Photojournalist João Ripper shared his work throughout the country that portrays the problems — and the beauty — found in disadvantage communities, bringing his unique communications perspective to the conversation.

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Both days members of the Network shared their work and experiences, and answered questions about community and social justice philanthropy. As a relatively new concept in Brazil, explaining and disseminating how this kind of philanthropy can help address structural social problems is key to helping the field grow in the country, and the group discussed strategies for such dissemination. Clarifying the concept, communicating it better and partnering with different actors in society were several main areas identified for future work.

The last day was open to a wider audience, which saw different panels sum up and build on discussions from the previous days. It was highlighted how social justice philanthropy is growing but still in its infancy in Brazil, as well as the importance of strengthening it, given the country’s high levels of inequality. Addressing power relations and the root causes of problems is a greatly needed in the country, and social justice philanthropy should be presented as a powerful tool to be used by civil society for social change.

Finally, new community foundations showed potential for spreading the model as an alternative to addressing community issues. But they also highlighted the challenges that community philanthropy faces, including a lack of knowledge on the issue, from both communities and funders, as well as a lack of infrastructural support for the development of this type of organization. The need for infrastructure further highlights the importance of such a convening. Bringing together actors with unique views from different countries provided a space for dialogue — an important and much needed step towards building a collective agenda for the development of community and social justice philanthropy in Brazil.

Independent global philanthropy professional John Harvey recaps of the event here.

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