Recent tendencies in philanthropy in BrazilMar 2012
The Brazilian economy has registered substantial progress in recent years, accompanied by a better distribution in income and wealth of the population. One would expect that as a result of this economic and social progress, donations to philanthropic institutions would also have risen. A recent article published in the magazine VEJA sheds some light on this issue. The article is based on a study commissioned by the NGO Fundo Cristao para Crianças.
Following a socio-economic classification of income classes (A,B,C and D) the analysis carried out by the consulting firm R. GARBER extracts information about philanthropic donations from the official income and expenditure surveys of 2003 and 2010. Some of the conclusions are surprising and deserve comment.
The first surprise is a decline in the percentage of donors in the total population from 10 percent in 2003 to 9 percent in 2010. This decline occurred in practically all regions of the country. As a result, total donations fell from 5.4 billion to 5.2 billion in money terms, and declined even more in real terms when one takes into account inflation of about 5% per annum.
The second even larger surprise is that the decline is mostly accounted for by a decline in donations by the highest income class A, which comprises the very rich in Brazil, and whose total donations declined by 37%. Contributions by the lowest income class D also declined by 62%. The interpretation given by VEJA is that the rich examine very carefully the use of their donations, and have become suspicious about corruption in the management of philanthropic institutions. I personally think that this interpretation is incorrect, and that the rich feel (rightly or wrongly) that the country has progressed so much that as a result the need for philanthropy has decreased.
The third surprise is that the middle income class C, which has been the fastest growing group in the population, has increased its donations by 28%. This means that people who moved from income class D to C between 2003 and 2010 and who now have the means to make some donations, now feel the obligation to devote some of their additional income to philanthropic causes. They have experienced poverty from close by and as a result are more knowledgeable of the needs of the remaining poor.
Unfortunately, the study gives no indication of the destination of the funds by type of charitable cause. I will attempt to gather this information at a later date.
Dr. Willy Van Ryckeghem is a lifelong consumerist, co-founder of the Belgian consumer organization Test-Achats, and former president of Consumers International.
In 2005, he moved to Brazil to assist the consumer organization Pro Teste, which is now the largest in Latin America, with close to 300,000 members.