Posts tagged ‘Brazil’

August 12, 2016

When Things Don’t Go Your Way, How Can You Still Win?

Prospective donors look forward to talking with you. Donors love you. Your colleagues are supportive. Your appeals achieve record success. When everything works the way it should, being a fundraising professional is fulfilling and enormously fun.

Unfortunately, things seldom go completely according to plan. Problems arise. Conflicts simmer. Unexpected events bring new challenges.

So, what can you do to become or remain a champion fundraising professional in the face of anticipated and unanticipated challenges?

The answer: Think like an Olympian.

I enjoy watching the Olympics. I like the competitions, and I like the human-interest stories. We can learn a great deal from Olympic athletes. If you want to be a champion, it’s a good idea to discover what champions do to succeed. For example, let’s look at a story involving Hope Solo, the gold-medal goalkeeper for the USA Women’s Soccer Team.

Soccer Ball by Armando Sobrino via FlickrAt the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics, USA faced New Zealand on the soccer field. Whenever the ball came near Solo, Brazilian football fans booed and, at times, chanted “Zika.” According to a report in The Washington Post, Brazil’s football fans were unhappy with Solo’s pre-Olympic comments about Brazil and her concerns about the Zika virus.

Prior to making the trip to South America, Solo took to social media to say she was thinking about not going. Ultimately, she “begrudgingly” announced she would participate in the games, but that she planned on being well armed with mosquito repellent. She also joked that she would bring enough for anyone else in the Olympic Village who might need some.

Solo’s concern is not unjustified. Zika is a serious virus that is transmitted by mosquito. The first major outbreak began in Brazil. In addition to causing other health problems, the virus can cause major birth defects if contracted by a pregnant woman.

Nevertheless, Brazilians were not pleased with Solo’s ongoing commentary about Zika.

So, Solo faced two issues when she took the field against New Zealand:

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July 8, 2015

Nonprofit Sector is a Powerful Force for Freedom

This past weekend, my fellow Americans and I celebrated our nation’s Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, representatives from the colonies gathered in Philadelphia to declare independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence, in part, states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Around the world where democracies have flourished, we see a robust nonprofit sector. Under dictatorial regimes, charities are either not permitted to exist, operate under government control, or function underground.

Independence Hall by Michael RosenDemocracy and the right to vote are not the same thing. While voting is certainly an essential element of a democracy, the term means so much more. Among other things, true democracies maintain an independent judiciary, ensure the rights of all citizens, and protect the most vulnerable members of society.

Charities contribute to freedom by diffusing power throughout society, encouraging expression, securing individual rights, meeting unmet needs, and in many other ways.

Brazil provides a good example of what I mean. When Brazil ended military rule and adopted a democratic system, the government maintained central control and limited the formation of charities. That democratic experiment ended relatively quickly with another military coup. When Brazil once again ended military rule, the new democratically elected government allowed the formation of charities and worked cooperatively with the sector.

Today, Brazil has a robust democracy, a reasonably healthy economy, and an effective nonprofit sector. Charities are indeed an essential part of civil society. You can read my article “Brazil: Two Countries Becoming One” by clicking here.

In the USA, charities are also an essential component of civil society. One of my favorite charities is the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance. PCA brings justice and healing to the victims of child sex abuse, protecting the most vulnerable members of our society.

Unfortunately, much more needs to be done to free children from the oppression of sexual abuse. In America, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused. Sexual abuse knows no racial, ethnic, religious, geographic, or economic boundaries. Sadly, though, many people choose to ignore the problem or rationalize it away rather than engaging to protect our nation’s vulnerable young ones.

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August 2, 2013

“Charitable-Industrial Complex” Huh?

[Publisher’s Note: For a list of the “Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants,” checkout the Special Report here.]


I grew up poor. Let me be clear. We were not welfare poor, but we were food-stamp poor.

Because of my upbringing, one of the things I now enjoy in life is reading articles that beautifully demonstrate rich, liberal guilt. One such article recently appeared in The New York Times: “The Charitable-Industrial Complex” by Peter Buffett, son of multi-billionaire Warren Buffett.

In his op-ed article, Peter describes what he sees as the problems of “Philanthropic Colonialism” and the “Charitable-Industrial Complex.” It could have been amusing if it was not so irresponsible and potentially dangerous. It could have even been a worthwhile piece if it had demonstrated any serious intellectual thought. I encourage you to read it.

George E. Wolf, a consultant, called my attention to the Buffett op-ed piece when he started a discussion in the Philanthropy Network Group on LinkedIn. I thank him for starting the conversation and inspiring this blog post.

Guilt Washing Station-NY TimesIn case you don’t believe me about the article containing a big dose of rich, liberal guilt, consider the graphic that accompanied the piece, which I’m presenting here (left).

Peter Buffett has a very comfortable life thanks to his capitalist father. Now, after reaping the enormous benefits of his father’s hard work and, I suspect, his father’s good name and connections, Peter complains about the ugly side of capitalism. While he states he’s not opposed to the capitalist system, he spends a great deal of time in his article complaining about the very system that has given him his comfortable life. 

Sadly, he does little to propose an alternative. The only exception is a rather vague suggestion that we pursue “humanism,” though he fails to define the term or provide any examples of humanism in action.

Peter is entitled to his opinions. He’s also entitled to be philanthropic, or not, in whatever way he chooses.

However, as an intellectual exercise, his article is sorely lacking.

For example, he asserts that there is a growing “charitable-industrial complex.” To support his claim, he looks at the $316 billion in philanthropic support contributed in the USA in 2012 and the growth rate of 25 percent in the number of American nonprofit organizations between 2001 and 2011. So what?

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January 31, 2011

Will Egypt be Another Iran or Brazil?

Events in Egypt are exhilarating. Beginning on January 25, the Egyptian people took to the streets throughout the country to demand that President Hosni Mubarak step-down after nearly 30 years of rule. Egyptians could be on the verge of getting the democracy that protesters are calling for.

Events in Egypt are frightening. Before the drama concludes, many Egyptians will lie dead. As of this posting, it is believed that over 100 Egyptians have already perished in their quest for liberty. I am also deeply concerned because Egyptians may find that, while they are able to unseat President Mubarak, they may simply be replacing one tyrant for another, perhaps an even more ruthless one.

Democracy is about much more than simply the right to vote. For democracy to take root anywhere, there must be the rule of law, democratic institutions, guaranteed rights, and robust citizen action. Power and responsibility must be shared throughout society and not simply held with an iron fist by the central government.

The people of Iran successfully overthrew the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979. Unfortunately, only seven months later, any hope of the Shah being replaced by an enlightened democracy were dashed when Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became the nation’s Supreme Leader. While Iranians have the right to vote, the Islamic Republic of Iran is certainly not a democracy. And, sadly, the rule of the Ayatollahs has been at least as brutal as the rule of the Shah. While many in Iran were horrified when the revolution was usurped by the Ayatollahs, they were seemingly powerless to alter the outcome of the revolution.

In Brazil, the military has ruled for a major portion of the nation’s history since it declared independence in 1822. Brief democratic periods ended with military overthrows. In 1964, the democratic government was again overthrown by the military. It was easy for the military to retake the government since the elected government had not defused power throughout society. Fortunately for Brazilians, General Ernesto Geisel became President in 1974 and began the process of gradual re-democratization culminating in free elections in 1985. Today, Brazil enjoys a robust, successful democracy.

Perhaps the greatest change in Brazilian society in recent years has been cultural. Since the return of democracy in 1985, citizens have had greater opportunities to participate in civic life as the government loosened its grip and the expectations of government evolved. Rather than frowning upon n0n-governmental organizations and being jealous of their resources and power, the elected government now sees the nonprofit sector as an important partner in the building of civil society. The result has been dramatic growth in the number of nonprofit organizations and nonreligious charitable giving. This realignment of civic responsibility has resulted in improved lives for Brazilians and a stable, democratic government.

Back to Egypt. No one knows how the current revolution will end. We hope for the best. Will Egypt be another Iran or Brazil? If the people take civic responsibility and defend the rights they seem poised to win, there is hope. Egypt already enjoys a growing nonprofit sector. This nonprofit community can play an important role in helping to create a new civil, democratic society in Egypt. Let us hope that will be the outcome.

For more information about the role of the nonprofit sector in Brazil, you can download the 2005 Advancing Philanthropy magazine article “Brazil: Two Countries Becoming One” by visiting

For a heartwarming video about volunteerism in Egypt, visit here.

That’s what Michael Rosen Says… What do you say?

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