As the next part in our global leaders series, we sat down with JP Vergueiro, one of the leaders who has been championing #GivingTuesday, otherwise known as #diadedoar, in Brazil for the last six years. Here’s what JP had to say about his experience driving #diadedoar.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get involved with the social good world?
JP: I am the CEO of the Brazilian Fundraisers Association (ABCR) currently. I have a degree in Public Management and used to work for the city government in Sao Paolo for six years before I began to work in the nonprofit sector. I got closer to the fundraising sector once I began working as a program funding officer for a nonprofit called Christian Aid in 2009. At that point I registered as an ABCR member, and eventually joined the board. Eventually I began working for ABCR and became really engaged in promoting a culture of fundraising and philanthropy in Brazil. The Brazilian nonprofit sector as a whole lacks resources and a sort of understanding on how they should be funded and at ABCR we are helping nonprofits understand how they can source funding by growing their fundraising programs. In 2015 I was hired as the first paid CEO for the association and since then I have been dedicating my time to strengthening the social sector in Brazil.
Q: What inspired you to get involved in #GivingTuesday?
JP: I have always known that in order to promote a stronger social sector in Brazil we can’t just talk about fundraising. We have to promote a strong philanthropic culture by helping people better understand what nonprofits are, how they work and how they’re important to Brazilian society and democracy as a whole. Since civic engagement and philanthropic behaviour is somewhat low in Brazil, we saw #GivingTuesday as a great opportunity to make the sector stronger by empowering nonprofits to do their own fundraising and so after we saw the beginnings of the movement in 2012 in the US, we decided to bring #GivingTuesday to Brazil.
Q: What has worked well for #GivingTuesday in Brazil so far?
JP: Our connections to the nonprofit sector are strong. ABCR has a big mailing list and is recognized across the sector as the leader in sharing relevant information, so we have had the influence to promote the movement among the Brazilian nonprofit community. We have a partner called Words Belly (Umbigo do Mundo), a small boutique communications agency, who have been donating to the campaign for four years now and are really a great example of how we have mobilized partners to contribute pro bono work to help grow the movement.
Also, we had a #diadedoar song last year! This really helped us build community around the movement and give it an identity.
Q: What challenges have you faced in getting #GivingTuesday in Brazil off the ground?
JP: One of the challenges that we have is that we have minimal funding. We have been counting on our own staff and time and our partners and we feel we need some more professional PR support in order to work on mobilising more funding and help the media and governments better understand why #GivingTuesday is important. We also need the bigger companies in the private and retail sectors to promote #GivingTuesday with their employees and customers.
Q: What’s the potential or impact of the movement in Brazil?
JP: In terms of potential, the sky is really the limit. We hope we can eventually reach the entire country with the idea of connecting people to nonprofits and promoting a culture of understanding the importance of helping nonprofit organisations to do important work in our country.
In terms of the impact, if we do our work well and we succeed each year to grow #GivingTuesday, we will really be able to shift the way people see the nonprofit sector in Brazil. We want to show people that it is really in their hands to create a stronger nonprofit sector in Brazil and have more impact in the future.
Q: What is one of your favourite #GivingTuesday stories?
JP: One of our city campaigns, Soracaba, has a family foundation that supports nonprofits. They saw the #GivingTuesday movement happening in Brazil and reached out to see what they could do. We shared the example of BMore Gives More in Baltimore and they actually created Doa Soracaba and it has been great to see them working on mobilizing the city. That was our first major case of a city campaign in Brazil and they have been inspiring others across the country. Now we have 10-15 community movements in Brazil and we continue to see them growing!
Also, there is an organization called DONEM which supports families of children with severe diseases in North-East Brazil. They had their first campaign last year and had an entire class singing a national song for #GivingTuesday asking for donations which they were able to pull together in only one month. It was very heartfelt and showcases how even small organizations can participate in #GivingTuesday.
To highlight one of our great private sector example, one of the major loyalty programs in Brazil, Smiles, ran an advantage program campaign. Through their program, typically every time you fly you get a mile, and on #GivingTuesday, for every point someone donated through their system they matched it with another point 1:1 and ended up donating 24 million points for nonprofits in Brazil as a result!
Q: What are you most looking forward to for #GivingTuesday 2018?
JP: One of our strategies for this year is to strengthen our relationships with the private sector. We are trying to open up spaces at key conferences by speaking about #GivingTuesday for example the retail sector. We were able to get a speaking opportunity at the upcoming LatAM Retail Show and Henry Timms will even be joining us! We hope that by having more of a presence at events like this we will be able to encourage more companies to join the movement.
Q: One of the reasons the #GivingTuesday movement has been so successful globally is because of the vision and leadership of country and community leaders like you, who step up in the name of social good. What does leadership mean to you?
JP: Leadership is being able to change things and be a part of the change without actually trying to make everything dependent on your presence. There’s more work to do always and it is important to have things sustain themselves by being able to connect and inspire others without the activity being dependent on the presence of the original leader.
Q: Do you have any advice for leaders thinking about starting a #GivingTuesday movement in their country or city?
JP: For #GivingTuesday just remember that you don’t own the campaign. Don’t make it “yours”, make it for people so that they can understand why the philanthropic sector exists. If you try to own it you won’t succeed and people will see through that. It’s not about ego, or ownership, it’s about impact and empowerment.
Q: What is a quote by one of your favourite leaders? Or, who is someone you admire for their vision and leadership and why?
JP: There is one quote that I liked and it’s something I learned from my Dad. It’s an Abraham Lincoln quote: “Some day I shall be President.” It’s not that I want to be President of Brazil, but I am always looking to do more and to grow. I run my life and I run things in a way where I am always trying to reach out and make a difference and impact in the world and I like that ambitious quote by Abraham Lincoln. We can settle with what we have, or we can strive to have more impact and drive more change and to grow as individuals, as families and as societies.