The role of family philanthropy in addressing invisible causes

By Isadora Pagy, Project Analyst at IDIS

When we talk about philanthropy, it is common to think of donations made for causes like education, healthcare, and hunger relief. The first image that often comes to mind is that of vulnerable children in need of help. It’s no wonder that children’s causes received the most donations in 2022, representing 46% of donations made in the past year, according to Brazil Giving Research 2022 coordinated by IDIS.

Despite the great importance and urgency of such issues, others end up receiving less attention, becoming overlooked causes. This underscores the need for us to be bold in bringing visibility to and prioritizing these topics, regions, and organizations. This is especially true when it comes to family philanthropy, which has become increasingly strategic, going beyond isolated or charitable actions, and holding great potential for transformation.

Such boldness was the overarching theme of the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum 2023, which took place on September 14th. During the event, a session was held to discuss precisely Family Philanthropy and addressing invisible causes, featuring the presence of Ilana Minev, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Bemol, Luciana Temer, CEO of Instituto Liberta and a board member of the Movimento Bem Maior, Philippine Vernes, Senior Manager of International Partnerships at CAF, and as the moderator, Luciano Cerqueira, Project Coordinator at Samambaia Filantropias.

During the conversation, Luciana Temer, who works to raise awareness about combating child sexual abuse as the director at Instituto Liberta, commented on how many investors and companies lack interest in investing in this cause because they consider it “an ugly issue.” In other words, they do not want to associate their brand with the cause. This raises a discussion about social washing and the tendency to invest only in issues that are “trendy” in order to enhance brand value in the eyes of consumers and potential investors.

Temer compares the issue to the fight against violence against women, which was also not discussed because it was considered a matter to be dealt with privately, as the saying goes, “you shouldn’t meddle in a husband and wife’s quarrel.” She emphasizes that this mindset should be challenged and that child sexual abuse, like violence against women, “occurs within families, is silenced, and exists in all social classes.”

Despite their importance, these overlooked causes are often considered residual and non-structural, which is once again used as a justification for not taking these issues seriously and strategically. This creates a greater difficulty in engaging partners, requiring boldness to address such socio-environmental issues.

In addition to Luciana Temer’s cause, there are other equally overlooked ones. Ilana Minev works on socio-environmental issues in the Amazon region and discusses the challenges and unique aspects of working in this region. She mentions that “when you work alone, you have limitations in terms of resources, time, and engagement,” emphasizing the importance of collaborative work, one of the pillars of her approach, by cooperating with other organizations also operating in the region.

Minev emphasizes another specific characteristic of the territory, stating that “most people have a helicopter view of the Amazon. They look through the treetops and see everything as green and rivers. But it’s necessary to descend and delve into the roots and look at the 25 million people who live there and seek prosperity”. She speaks of the potential that the region holds and the importance of working in-depth, once again combatting social washing.

When it comes to territory, Luciano Cerqueira highlights another obstacle that the country faced in the past, which was the perception of funders and international organizations towards Brazil as a whole, not just the Amazon. He comments on how Brazil was seen as a rich yet unequal country, with the means to finance social causes, which led to the departure of major international funders in 2004. Luciano discusses how this perception has changed and how international organizations have started to see new partnership possibilities with Brazil, bringing a positive outlook for Brazilian organizations.

Despite the challenges raised, there are opportunities for family philanthropy to become increasingly strategic. Philippine Vernes, representing CAF, a century-old British philanthropy organization, discusses the intergenerational aspect and the transfer of wealth to future generations, which opens doors to new themes, ways of giving, and strengthening the third sector.

Therefore, there is a need to focus on institutional strengthening of organizations, looking at governance and resource mobilization. This way, private social investment can be powerful, long-lasting, collaborative, and contribute to various social causes and territories across the country, bringing visibility to all.

Check out the full session.

Brazilian Philanthropy Forum 2023: the importance of boldness for the evolution of philanthropy

On September 14th, the 12th edition of the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum took place in São Paulo. Organized by IDIS – the Institute for the Development of Social Investment, the event aims to accelerate solutions through connections and promote philanthropy in the country.

With the theme of BOLDNESS, the sessions covered topics such as ESG, territorial transformation, impact assessment, endowment funds, and much more. Throughout the day, more than 40 speakers from Brazil and abroad participated. There were 265 guests in attendance, and the live broadcast received over 1,800 views.

There were 13 sessions in 10 hours of programming, featuring 43 speakers. Notable names included Armínio Fraga (Philanthropist and former President of the Central Bank), Braulina Baniwa (Director of the National Articulation of Indigenous Women Warriors of Ancestry), Eduardo Saron (President of the Itaú Foundation), Gelson Henrique (Executive Coordinator of the PIPA Initiative), Geyze Diniz (Co-founder of the Pact Against Hunger), Gilson Rodrigues (President of G10 Favelas), Jean Jereissati (CEO of AMBEV), Luciana Temer (CEO of the Liberta Institute), Priscila Cruz (Executive President of Todos pela Educação), Roberto Sallouti (CEO and board member of BTG Pactual), Rodrigo Mendes (Founder of the Rodrigo Mendes Institute), as well as international guests such as Guerda Nicolas (Co-founder of Ayiti Community Trust) and Nivedita Narain (CEO of CAF India).

After an exciting opening featuring Favela Music artists, the opening panel ‘Boldness: a cross-cutting element for transformative, diverse, and inclusive impact’ set the tone for the event right away, which throughout the program brought different perspectives to the need for bold actions in Private Social Investment to address our socio-environmental challenges.

Next, in the plenary session ‘Family philanthropy: addressing invisible causes’, examples of individuals who dare to invest their resources in neglected causes, territories, and organizations, sometimes controversial in the eyes of the general public, were discussed, and how this contributes to fostering a culture of giving.

Another panel brought a discussion about a less explored topic: mistakes. It is common for us to seek inspiration only from successful cases, but the panel ‘Learning from mistakes: stories of those who took risks and didn’t succeed on the first try’ showed how looking at what didn’t go as expected can be equally inspiring.

The program also featured the participation of the 2022 winners of the ‘Social Entrepreneurship Award’ from Folha de S. Paulo and the Schwab Foundation, who were able to present their initiatives and purposes of action. The panel was moderated by Eliane Trindade, editor of the Award.

Next, Sir Ronald Cohen, considered one of the gurus of Impact Investing, participated via video, delivering an inspiring and powerful message about what he calls the Impact Revolution, encouraging everyone to do things differently and take risks to generate effective transformations. Check it out.

Fueled by the call, the next panel, ‘The boldness of philanthropy in the ESG Agenda’, brought the corporate perspective on the topic. In a scenario where the ESG agenda is advancing rapidly, it is important for companies to engage in Private Social Investment with a long-term vision and a clear understanding of the contributions of ISP to their sustainability strategy.

After the morning program concluded, the guests participated in a cocktail followed by a thematic lunch: each table had a host who proposed a conversation topic. Participants could choose from 18 options and delve into reflections on various issues.

Upon returning from lunch, Carla Reis, Head of the Department of the Industrial and Service Complex of Health in the area of Productive Development, Innovation, and Foreign Trade at BNDES, presented the ‘Together for Health’ program and showed how, through a matchfunding model, the bank is combining public and philanthropic capital to strengthen public health in the North and Northeast of Brazil.

The interview in the traditional ‘In Conversation with…’ session was with Armínio Fraga, a philanthropist, founder of Gávea Investimentos, and former president of the Central Bank. He explained the reasons that led him to Private Social Investment and talked about the projects he is currently involved in.

Next, Rhodris Davies, in a video appearance as well, offered reflections on Artificial Intelligence. As the world and organizations discover how AI can be useful (or not) to society, how can NGOs and funders, instead of adopting it passively, take the lead in demonstrating how AI can be used to promote positive changes in society? Watch the video.

Another topic of discussion at the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum 2023 was the need for a careful look at territories, their uniqueness and knowledge, and how this enhances actions in various themes, amplifying silenced voices and building a more promising future for all. This theme was explored in depth in the session ‘Unlikely Alliances: Boldness in the Defense of Causes and Territories’.

The panel ‘Shifting perspectives: from reporting to evidence-based management’, in turn, discussed how the growing demand for effective results and performance improvement has driven organizations to abandon traditional data collection and presentation practices in favor of more dynamic and evidence-based impact assessment approaches. Guests shared the experiences of organizations that have successfully made this transition.

In the panel ‘Funding models: calculated risks for transformative return’ the debate revolved around increasingly innovative financing alternatives, aiming for socio-environmental impact.

Closing the day’s program, in the concluding plenary ‘More than ever, boldness is needed to fight poverty!’, our guests, leaders in their sectors and countries, reinforced how bold and creative actions can indeed reduce social and institutional vulnerabilities in Brazil and around the world.

“When we began planning this gathering, we had doubts if we would have enough cases of boldness. As we designed the agenda, we discovered surprising stories, and seeing them together was very powerful,” commented Paula Fabiani, CEO of IDIS, at the event’s conclusion.

Watch the full event recording here:


The event was organized by IDIS – Institute for Social Development, in partnership with the Global Philanthropy Forum and the Charities Aid Foundation, with silver support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and bronze support from Ambev, B3 Social, BNP Paribas Asset Management, BTG Pactual, Itaú Foundation, José Luiz Egydio Setúbal Foundation, Sicoob Institute, Movimento Bem Maior, RaiaDrogasil S.A and Vale.

This year, the forum had again Alliance Magazine as a media partner. Based in England, the world’s largest philanthropy magazine covered the event and livestreamed it in English on its YouTube channel.


The Brazilian Philanthropy Forum provides a space for the philanthropic community to gather, exchange experiences, and learn from their peers, strengthening strategic philanthropy for the development of Brazilian society. The event has already brought together over 1,500 participants, including philanthropists, leaders, and national and international experts. Recordings of all editions are available on our YouTube channel. Check it out!