What I Learned On My Spring Vacation (Part 1)
Last week, I was part of a delegation from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, visiting non-government organizations in Brazil as People to People citizen ambassadors. Our goal was to learn from our colleagues in Brazil, a country experiencing rapid economic development, about the fundraising challenges they are facing.
First, some background - our hosts frequently mentioned that the bulk of funding for Brazilian nonprofits comes from the government and corporations. Individuals generally do not give, viewing social programs as something that the government should fund. Some organizations are beginning to build a small cadre of individual partners, and others are able to get donations of needed materials, but this is a slow change in a country that has long been Socialist.
But a number of hard-working, scrappy organizations are bringing change to men, women and children in Brazil, and slowly but surely changing the nonprofit community at the same time. Here are some lessons to challenge your thinking.
Start where the people you want to serve already are
Samba is as much a part of the Brazilian culture as rock 'n roll is for American baby boomers. This combination of dance and music is a source of civic pride, and part of the celebration of Carnival.
Escola de Samba Rosas de Ouro (Golden Roses Samba School) works in a low-income neighborhood of Sao Paulo. Young people and adults come to the Samba School to learn to play instruments and perform, and then to be part of Escola de Samba Rosas de Ouro's entry in Carnival. Up to 4,000 other members of the community take part in what is often a major award winner in the parade.
But samba is also a "hook" to get people to come to the community center. Escola de Samba Rosas de Ouro also offers social projects, teaching skills to help community members earn an income as hairdressers or manicurists, or from the sale of handmade items in local markets. Additionally, the neediest families receive basics like rice, beans, flour, oil and milk. During the school holidays, younger children from the community can come to Samba School and experience field trips to museums and the theater, cooking lessons and craft time, as well as receive a nutritious meal.