July 29, 2008

Global Trends in Social Action

By Anonymous

The Mexican Cultural Institute-the only building in Washington, D.C. with murals painted by one of Diego Rivera's disciples, Roberta Cueva del Rio-was the site for a dinner hosted by Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's ambassador to the United States. He opened the evening by acknowledging that Latin America and the United States are at a significant crossroads. The next American president will have to contend with the challenging issue of immigration, a topic that will certainly be a major policy concern during the first years of the next administration. Simultaneously, all eyes will be on Mexico, a country the ambassador described as "undergoing positive and critical transformations in the face of difficult challenges." Jamal Khokhar, advisor to the Office of Outreach and Partnerships at the Inter-American Development Bank, introduced the evening's keynote speaker, French economist Jacques Attali. The author of 38 books, chair of the 2008 "Attali Commission" on French Economic Liberalization, and president of microfinance non-profit organization PlaNet Finance, Dr. Attali proved to be a candid and insightful speaker.

Attali noted that while emerging markets do not have substantial funds for philanthropy, they are producing key players who will shape the field's future. A strong advocate of microfinance, he believes that there are eight levels to fighting poverty, beginning with the mere act of giving money, and ending with the philanthropists viewing the poor as valuable business partners. Helping impoverished people take charge of their lives, by giving them a hand up rather than a hand out, enables them to become market actors and more active citizens.

According to Attali, there are several avenues to improve philanthropic efforts:

1. Require private sector employees to spend a designated period of time at a non-profit organization.

2. View non-profits in the same manner as the private sector, recognizing that mergers and leadership equally affect them both.

3. Train a new generation of non-profit managers by financing university courses dedicated to the field.

4. Collect resources. For example: Kiva, a person-toperson micro- lending website, has demonstrated that the Internet can be a powerful tool for promoting microfinance.

5. Show, don't tell. Resist inundating potential funders with reports and papers. Instead, bring them to project sites and encourage them to meet beneficiaries.

6. Prioritize the link between poverty and the environment by encouraging the poor to develop sustainable practices.

Opportunities for a Global Non-Profit Police Sector?

Attali predicted that a new, international non-profit police sector would emerge. Why and how might this happen? To begin with, the United Nations' poor track record of international peacekeeping efforts opens up the opportunity for other groups to fill this crucial void. In addition, the non-profit world has demonstrated its ability to transform systems that were traditionally viewed as within the government's domain. For example, the nongovernmental organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) is as important a player in global health as the World Health Organization. Given the number of paramilitary groups worldwide, could a Police Sans Frontieres be the next global peace keeping force?

Helping impoverished people take charge of their lives, by giving them a hand up rather than a hand out, enables them to become market actors and more active citizens.


* Altruists comprise the core of philanthropy. They are motivated by a strong desire to help society's most vulnerable populations and frequently operate in venues outside the typical marketplace.

* Patient capitalists believe that philanthropy can provide significant returns and foster democracy, rule of law, and health systems. Banks act as patient capitalists when they engage in microfinance.

* Public-relations purists are those who see philanthropy as a means to improve a company's reputation. They may be inspired to create pride within the workforce or produce a complimentary report that will garner praise for the company.


Globally SABMilller and Bavaria, its Colombian subsidiary, are committed to conducting business under strict rules of ethics and responsibility. We want to promote a culture of responsible alcohol consumption among adults, and to prevent-let me underline the word prevent-underage drinking. These two goals are essential parts of our sustainable development policy.

In Colombia, we decided to focus our main efforts on preventing children and teenagers from drinking alcohol. The rationale is clear. Many scientific studies have demonstrated that drinking alcohol has serious consequences for teenagers and children, both at the physical and psychological levels. Other studies show that children and teenagers who drink at an early age are at greater risk of abusing alcohol later in life.

We are deeply convinced that no underage drinking of alcohol should be permitted. It is imperative to prevent it. We know that we do not necessarily sound credible on this matter, but, so to speak, we do put our money where our mouth is: Bavaria has a strict self- regulatory code for advertising and promotion of its products.

We do not target children or teenagers with our advertising, and we do not use any image or concept that could attract them in our advertising and marketing efforts. We have invested important resources in an advertising campaign called "All of us can be Parents." Its aim is to create awareness among sellers and distributors about the importance of not selling alcohol to minors. But, I must say that Bavaria, or any other company for that matter, cannot achieve such critical goals without outside help. The key to success, as with most social causes, lies in collaborative efforts and shared responsibility. All actors and sectors should join efforts instead of playing the blame game.

We work in partnership with NGOs, government authorities, and private sector associations. We believe that information, education, and prevention are instrumental to preventing underage drinking. We know and understand that parents and adults have great influence over children and that we need to explain to our kids the reasons why they should not drink alcohol. Finally, we understand that many parents and adults do not know how to engage their kids on such difficult topics of conversation. They do not have the information or the data, and they are not always aware of the importance of discussing these topics. We realize we must help parents have those conversations.

Our first step toward this goal has been to prepare a practical and simple, yet comprehensive enough, guideline for parents to be able to talk with their sons and daughters about alcohol.

We printed 300,000 copies of a guideline, titled "Talk to your children before alcohol does," and we distributed them freely in Colombia, in all major national newspapers during the last Christinas season.

We understand that parents need advice and support throughout the year. That's why we created a web-based version of the Guideline: http://www.todospodemosserpadres.org. That same page will help parents, teachers, experts, and authorities in building a virtual community to exchange knowledge, experience, and projects. I invite everyone interested in this matter to visit the page and to let us know their opinions on it, as well as their suggestions.

We have created additional tactics for communicating our message of zero tolerance in regards to underage drinking. I want to share one of them with you. The figure of Don Chucho (see next page), our campaign icon, a familiar and friendly character in Colombia that embodies our values, will be able to advise parents on how to talk to their kids and will continue to broaden our efforts to educate retailers on the importance of not selling alcohol to minors. This will create a personality for our agenda that goes far beyond a communications program.

We have received, and deeply appreciate, the support of many government authorities and members of civil society, which help motivate us in this effort. As for the future, we will continue to foster and promote partnerships and alliances with local authorities, NGOs, teachers, schools, parents' associations, and media outlets.

Our commitment to this important issue will continue to be an essential part of our business.

Andres Penate

Director, Sustainable Development


Copyright Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Jul/Aug 2008

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