Report by Luísa Bonin: How organisations that finance social projects in Brazil listen

26.03.2024 | Luísa Bonin´s report delves into exploring the significance of active listening as a tool for social impact

In Brazil, GIFE (the Group of Institutes, Foundations and Companies) – in partnership with Maecenata Foundation and Philea – is publishing the report: “Como organizações financiadoras de projetos sociais no Brasil escutam” (english: How organisations that finance social projects in Brazil listen) by Luísa Bonin, a qualitative review of listening methodologies and frameworks used by 12 Brazilian social investors (Foundations, Institutes and CSR), that sets out analysis to help improve listening practices and ultimately support healthy relationships in philanthropy that change systems for the better.

The goal of the report is to take a deep and qualitative look into the listening practices and is based on research focused on them. The concept behind the sample was to gather different listening practices and then analyse the various points of view on learnings, challenges and benefits of each practice, taking into consideration how heterogeneous the philanthropic sector is, and understanding that different listening practices attend to different goals and causes. In order to understand and be able to qualify and classify their listening process, the interview script was built upon the work of organisations that are advocating for better listening practices.

The report aims to transcend the mere classification of organisations, aspiring to stimulate internal reflection among funding entities. What characterises an organisation’s approach to listening? What actionable measures can be undertaken to refine and incorporate the voices of social organisations and individuals directly impacted by philanthropic services into the decision-making process?The enhancement of listening practices necessitates more than the adoption of novel data collection techniques. The report underscores that it entails a comprehensive series of actions to refine practices and foster a culture of active listening within funding organisations, spanning from the individual contributor level to leadership decision-making.Acknowledging and rectifying imbalances in power dynamics, concentrating on developing communication skills, self-awareness, and a growth mindset among team members are likely to serve as pivotal initial steps for funding organisations aspiring to augment their listening capabilities. In an era marked by discussions on “systemic change”, it is imperative to acknowledge that internal systems and team dynamics are integral components that demand attention.The report emphasises that cultivating healthier relationships between funding organisations, social entities, and individuals directly impacted by philanthropic services is essential and that funding organisations find themselves in a unique position of privilege, possessing the resources and decision-making authority to instigate changes in their listening practices. Genuine connections are cultivated by prioritising and considering diverse voices, creating a collaborative ecosystem that values autonomy and the perspectives of all stakeholders.

Luísa Bonin is a Fellow of the Maecenata Foundation. The report is published in Portuguese and was created in collaboration with GIFE and is supported by the Maecenata Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and Philea – Philanthropy Europe Association.

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M.A. Lisa Klisch


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