Call to a New Philanthropy – Folha de São Paulo 11/23/2016

“Training a guide dog to help a blind person costs about US$ 40,000. Curing a person who is blind from trachoma in a developing country costs between US$ 20 and US$ 50. For the same money, you can get a guide dog for a blind person or you can cure 400 to 2,000 people of blindness.”

It is with this dilemma that Peter Singer, professor of philosophy at Princeton, explains the fundamentals of a movement known as effective altruism. Guided by calculation and rationality, adherents of this current seek to apply scientific evidence to determine the most efficient means of positively impacting the world. This mentality seeks to replace the traditional concept of charity, which –associated with religion– is predominantly driven by emotion. Donors, in this model, are driven by empathy with recipients. The efficiency or effectiveness of money is not considered, but the moral commitment to others that materializes through donation.

In a country that ranks 68th in the global ranking of donations, where donations represent just 0.23% of GDP compared to the US's 2.1%, this discussion seems distant. Especially if we consider the unwillingness of Brazilians to talk about their donations: in a recent survey carried out by IDIS, 87% of donors agreed that people should not count on making donations. The curious thing is that the same survey shows that more than half of Brazilians performed
cash donations in 2015 and that 30% of the population makes donations on a recurring basis. That is, the practice of philanthropy is already established in the country, but the debate about the best methods is still incipient.

If we understand that philanthropy is not just the exercise of generosity, but also the use of our resources to promote a better world, the need to evaluate the impact of the money we donate is clear. But it is necessary to consider: rationalizing philanthropy as much as possible and removing emotion from the process calls into question characteristics
fundamentals of the social sector. Betting on effective altruism: who would donate to innovative projects without
results to present? How many causes would be orphaned for failing to present evidence of their results? How would you bet on long-term ideas or advocacy NGOs that seek to change legislation?
In practice, there are limits to both reason and emotion. And, as NGOs in Brazil collect an average of less than 10 thousand reais per month, we should not waste too much time with false dilemmas. What we need is to develop a philanthropy that articulates these two visions and finds a possible balance point.

It is in this context that Portfolio Philanthropy arises.

This new current has the challenge of integrating philanthropy with sustainable financial planning, combined with conscious consumption and responsible investment. To create positive change articulated with your worldview, planning is necessary. Philanthropy should not be a sporadic action, but an area of one's financial planning. The money should be divided between investments, expenditures and donations.

The consistency of donations is important precisely for the formation of a philanthropic vision, capable of guiding the allocation of resources, observing the preferences and restrictions of the donor, but also considering the different approaches, causes and strategies found in the social sector. As a result of planning, the donation portfolio usually values the balance of approaches from supported organizations, after all, the impact that the donor wants to see in the world is hardly restricted to a single organization or cause.

In order for the entire social sector to develop, and for society as a whole to overcome the false dilemmas between reason and emotion when it comes to giving, we need more portfolio philanthropists. Who knows, with this we can hope for a better country, less unequal, less corrupt in the short, medium and long term. The challenge of philanthropy is not the battle between head and heart, but creating a harmonious partnership between the two.

LEONARDO LETELIER, president of Sitawi Finanças do Bem; RICARDO BORGES MARTINS, professor of advocacy at FGV

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