Finding common paths to fostering an enabling environment for philanthropy in Latin America and the Caribbean
By Andrea Hanai, Project Manager IDIS – CAF Brazil
By the end of October, São Paulo was the stage for the 2nd WINGS Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean, a two-day meeting aiming to promote peer learning, build regional capacity, and define a joint agenda to fostering a more enabling philanthropy environment in the region. As co-chair of the LAC Affinity Group, I had the pleasure to contribute to the meeting agenda and now, I am flattered to write a few words on my perceptions of the gathering and its main takeaways.
The meeting was a journey that involved understanding each other; the intention to critically analyze the philanthropy field in the region; and humbleness to question ourselves as we discussed the challenges (and opportunities) of jointly developing an enabling environment for philanthropy in the region.
These three aspects — understanding, intention, and humbleness — naturally became the principles for our collective work, professed in the Collective Declaration from the WINGS Latin America and the Caribbean Affinity Group, that we invite you all to read and share.
We started our meeting exchanging viewpoints on the common trends connected to enabling the environment for philanthropy and giving in the region. The group identified that articulating the 3 sectors around the common good has been an increasingly difficult responsibility for support organizations to undertake, and this was a recurring issue in our discussions.
But if cross-sector collaboration has been for so long one of the most widely celebrated mechanisms for delivering sustainable development, then why is facilitating it seem so challenging in Latin American and the Caribbean?
Surprisingly, the group agreed that these challenges are not so often (as we would think) linked to a lack of resources or solutions, but rather, they concern the relational aspects of bringing together diverse constituents. The barriers to building cross-sector relationships include the difficulty of merging the motives, languages, and cultures of diverse sectors; the issue of competition among parties with differing views; the complications in agreeing on management and measurement strategies; the perennial obstacles of politics; and the rising complexity of finding common agendas.
According to the participants, the way forward requires support organizations’ conscious effort in relationship building within new forms of organizations, networks, alliances, coalitions, etc. The new way forward also demands that each sector has an understanding of its own role and an unjudgemental comprehension of the other sectors’ roles, viewing the differing perspectives and roles as a source of strength.
Regarding this topic, the group expressed its concern that within civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean region, there is a lack of common understanding of the role of civil society itself, which leads to weaker representation and engagement in the emerging forms of cross-sector cooperation.
Thus, the group concluded that we, as support organizations, have a key part to play in streamlining and reinforcing the narrative around the societal benefits of an active, engaged civil society, at the same time that we promote a culture of giving and solidarity in the region. It is worth mentioning that the meeting has provided participants with theoretical and practical tools on advocacy and communication, that will certainly contribute to this mission.
Ultimately, by recognizing and embracing the diverse profiles, needs, interests, and experiences of its members, WINGS has honored us with a meeting in which this diversity, instead of representing an adversity to our collective work, acted for enriching the background to deepen conversations and delivering meaningful collective outcomes. As a result, the 2nd WINGS Regional Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean not only achieved its own goals, but also worked well as an exercise of relationship building that we have to continue practicing at our local and regional levels in order to strengthen a favorable environment for our sector to thrive. With understanding, intention, and humbleness.
Projetos, IDIS – CAF Brazil
IDIS – CAF Brazil facilitates the participation of individuals, families, companies and communities in strategic social actions that bring social change, and help reduce social inequalities in the country. Read more on their website: https://www.idis.org.br/