Culture of giving in Brazil: Brief scenario

25 de julho de 2022

It is not possible to talk about innovation and trends in giving in Brazil without first looking at the landscape of the donation culture.

According to the World Giving Index 2021, an initiative of the British organization
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) carried out since 2009, Brazil occupied the 54th
position among the 114 countries covered in 2000, rising 14 positions in relation
to 2018 data and 20 positions in relation to its average position in the last 10 years
(Charities Aid Foundation, 2021). The index is composed of the answer to three
questions made to a sample with national representation: in the last month, (1) did
you help a stranger, (2) did you donate money to a social organization, or (3) did you
do some kind of volunteer work? In a year of socioeconomic crisis and lockdown
caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, helping out a stranger was the variable that
evolved the most in Brazil, showing that empathy and solidarity are on the rise.

Another study also helps us understand how the culture of donation has been
transformed in the country: Brazil Giving Research 2020, the most comprehensive
survey on the practice of individual donation in the country, promoted by the
Institute for the Development of Social Investment (IDIS). Its second edition,
carried out by Ipsos Research Institute between January and June 2021, shows that
the landscape of the donation culture has changed in the country in the past five
years since the first edition of the survey in 2015 (IDIS, 2021).

Part of the change was an evolution in the positive perception of giving and of
civil society organizations (CSOs), as well as an increase in their credibility. There
was also a great advance in the way Brazilians understand what citizenship
is and engage in solving problems, with a greater awareness that social and
environmental challenges in Brazil must be addressed by civil society and not
exclusively by the government.

An aspect of Brazilian culture that has an impact on the donation culture is people’s
resistance to publicizing or commenting on a donation made to others. Brazilians
understand that saying that they donated means expecting some compensation or
something in return, or promoting themselves, and this is socially disapproved. This
attitude, however, is beginning to change as a result of assertive communication
campaigns and concrete actions by a local movement to foster the culture of giving
in Brazil. When talking about donations, influence grows, and so do donations.

Taken together, these elements are indicative of a more mature society.

In the five-year period from 2015 to 2020, donating in cash was the most popular
way of giving, chosen by 53 percent of the respondents, and only 17 percent said
they had made some kind of online transation. However, there was also a great
development of technological tools for donation, such as giving platforms, taxfree instant bank transfer methods (PIX), social media to promote giving with live
broadcasting and giving buttons, and even a timid emergence of crypto giving.
These developments resulted in advances in two directions: accountability and
operational ease of donating. From the perspective of CSOs, it is easier to publicize
their performance and be accountable, even though the third sector requires
a general improvement to become more professional and have a more robust
management structure.

From the donor’s point of view, it is easier to follow what is done with the donated
resources, meaning the effective destination of the money. Regarding operational
ease, faster and more practical mechanisms for donation emerged with donation
buttons on e-commerce and social media, PIX, and so on. Combined, these effects
are beneficial to further boost donations in Brazil.

With cultural changes and technological advances, an increase in the volume of
donations in the country would be expected, but it has not happened. In 2020, 66
percent of the Brazilians said they made some kind of donation, while 37 percent
confirmed they actually donated money for a CSO. Together, they summed a total
of BRL 10.3 billion (equivalent to a bit more than USD 2.1 billion in 2021, adjusted
for inflation). In 2015, the total donations from the Brazilians reached BRL 13.7
billion (equivalent to over USD 4.7 billion in 2021, adjusted for inflation).

In these last five years, Brazilians had to deal with the effects of one of the worst
socio-economic crises in their history, and then faced the worsening of this
situation with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World
Inequality Report 2022, Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world:
the top 10 percent captures 59 percent of the total national income while the
bottom half of the population takes only around 10 percent of the national income
(World Inequality Lab, 2022). The pandemic has further accentuated this scenario.
The World Bank estimates that its effects drive up to 49 million people into poverty.
According to the Brazilian Instituto for Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the
country reached its highest unemployment rate since 2012 on April 2021, when
14.8 million people were looking for a job and the survey published by Oxfam in
January 2022 presents an estimate that, between April 2020 and April 2021, 377 Brazilians lost their jobs per hour, and that more than 600,000 companies
went bankrupt (Barros, 2021). The impact was felt in other areas as well. A survey
carried out by the Brazilian Research Network on Food and Nutrition Sovereignty
and Security pointed out that Brazil had at least 19 million people suffering from
hunger in that year (Gandra, 2021). The number of Brazilians who went hungry in
the new coronavirus pandemic doubles what was recorded in 2009, with a return to
the level observed in 2004. Before the country starts to recover and restructure its
economy, the tendency for this crisis is to worsen.

The figures show that average Brazilian in 2020 was poorer and more
concerned about their future than they were in 2015 (IDIS, 2021). Therefore, it
is understandable that part of their willingness to donate has been nullified by
uncertainty and economic insecurity, justifying the decrease observed in 2020 in
the proportion of donors of any nature, whether of money, goods, or time. Many
donors have probably become grant beneficiaries. On the other hand, classes with
greater purchasing power have responded, and donated more in 2020 than before.
As Brazil Giving Research 2020 shows—while the national average of donors was
37 percent, 58 percent of the people who earned between 6 and 8 times of the
minimum wages donanted in 2020—7 points higher than in 2015 (IDIS, 2021).

In Brazil, according to a sector mapping carried out by the Institute for Applied
Economic Research (IPEA), there are more than 800,000 active CSOs that
respond to the most diverse of causes (IPEA, 2021). The impact they generate is
increasingly communicated, contributing to the understanding that Brazilian CSOs
are closely linked to problem solving. Brazilians are empathetic and supportive,
and this cultural trait is receptive to the appeals of philanthropy. These are solid
foundations, and when the economic situation improves, a consistent recovery in
donations is expected. With knowledge and an understanding of new models for
enabling donations, it will be possible to go even further.