The Importance of an Ecosystem Approach with Marcos from Instituto Phi

A Response To WINGS Ecosystem Paper- By Marcos Pinheiro From Instituto Phi

Instituto Phi was born in 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, to provide philanthropic advice to individuals and corporations. Phi’s mission is to be a bridge between those who want a focused and efficient donation, with impact measurement and quality social projects. Phi’s work cycle begins by understanding the cause of the donor. From this definition, we seek projects that are appropriate to our focus, on a tool with its own methodology, which analyses initiatives based on management, transparency, strength and impact. Instituto Phi operated in Rio de Janeiro between 2014 and 2015. Due to the success of the work, in 2016 a branch in São Paulo was opened, which operates with the same methodology of Rio´s.

At Instituto Phi, we began seeking collaborations that could bring more scale to social impact, pragmatic quality, capacity of raising funds, administrative efficiency, financial strength and risk management competencies, so we started to map our peer organizations to see where there existed potential for collaboration. At the end of 2016, we reached out to one of the organizations mapped- Instituto Rio.

Founded in the year 2000, Instituto Rio aims to support and strengthen initiatives promoting development in Rio de Janeiro. In the last few years, Instituto Rio had centralized its operational budget around R$288 thousand annually, beneficiating 12 social projects.

Since Phi’s mission, as well as Rio’s mission, is to support, articulate and foment the work of social institutions, we identified the opportunity to create a joint-venture: we could manage Rio’s annual budget, providing our infrastructure and methodology to promote resources distribution, monitoring and training. Instituto Rio would then be in control of the whole process, from the general aspects, to the final decision-making on which projects to support.

This pioneering partnership was a success! The work between the two institutions enabled the 2017 Edital which was executed with greater efficiency and at a significantly lower administrative cost from the years before.  This exchange of expertise is continuing this year in 2018, and now the partnership also includes an acceleration of supported organizations that includes diagnosis, management support, mission and vision review, governance model, strategic and operational planning. It also covers expansion of the network.

This partnership highlights the pertinence of the ecosystem approach to solve complex problems, as presented in the WINGS’ Ecosystem paper. Rio de Janeiro is big and has many social issues. Instituto Rio has a lot of knowledge of the territory, due to its longevity. Phi, brings together expertise in curating, planning, monitoring and the evaluation of social projects. The combination of these attributes has increased our ability to cope with a complex reality and has allowed greater social impact to be achieved.


Marcos Pinheiros is the Co-Founder, Project Director and Investor Relations at Instituto Phi based in Brazil, with office presences in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

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