Filantrofilia – Towards impactful giving in Mexico

By Anne Hand

The Mexican social sector is a vibrant space, with many effective organizations doing great work.  It is a nascent sector that is still developing and finding its bearings, since, historically, public charity was the exclusive domain of the Catholic Church, the Federal government, and wealthy landlords.  While church and state maintain a strong presence in social programs, the private sector, particularly Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), has emerged in the past 20 years as a key player as well.

The specter of asistentialismo remains strong for Mexican CSOs .  Asistentialismo is a common Latin American form of charity that is welfare-level donations and care.  Until recently, there had been little focus on strategic philanthropy, rights-based programs, or impact measures of charitable programs or projects.

Over the past 20 years, different types of umbrella organizations have been created to unite Mexican CSOs and provide a common framework and resources.  However, none of these organizations consistently focused on the social impact of organizations: their effectiveness, their efficiency, and their social return on investment.

Furthermore, there remains a consistent, stubborn lack of trust within the Mexican social sector.  Because there are no consistent accountability measures, and many programs are focused on basic welfare-related causes, the public in general is skeptical about the long-term impacts and benefits of organized philanthropic giving.  This feeds into a less-than optimal regulatory environment, and inhibits the growth of the Mexican social sector.

When Filantrofilia was founded in 2009, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to help CSOs improve their social impact so that more people would donate to more organizations with more impact in Mexico.  But there was no baseline, no place to start from.  There was no other organization in the country that was measuring social impact that would be useful for each CSO, but also be comparable between CSOs.  So we developed our own rating procedure.

Our rating procedure has two parts:  Organizational Development and Social Impact.  Our Organizational Development rating evaluates five key topics related to the organizational strength of the CSO; we average those evaluations, and come out with a letter grade that goes from F to AA.  Our Social Impact ratings are based on interviews with beneficiaries, to understand the impact a CSO’s program has on their lives, and whether or not that program would be substitutable if the CSO were to disappear.  From this information, we calculate the CSO’s reach, effectiveness, efficiency, and a monetary value of Social Return on Investment for the CSO’s work.

We see our rating and methodology as a great tool for CSOs.  It is a snapshot that allows a CSO to realistically see where they are today, and what steps they need to take to improve for tomorrow.  To date, we have rated over 200 Mexican CSOs, and re-visit many of them on an annual basis to update their rating.  Our goal is to rate 2,000 Mexican CSOs by 2015, which is approximately 10% of the entire Mexican CSO landscape.

The concept of Social Impact is something that is very new to the Mexican social marketplace; we have tried to keep our rating process as simple, useful, and practical as possible.  As the only social rating organization in Mexico that includes a Social Impact analysis in its procedure, we are also building capacity with all the CSOs we work with so that they can understand the importance of measuring the impact of their work.

At Filantrofilia, we are working to improve the culture of philanthropy and trust in the Mexican social sector through measuring impact, and create a lasting change in how people give.  When more people give to more CSOs that have more impact, and we know what that impact is, we will know that we have done our job.


 

Anne is the International Resources Executive and Filantrofilia. You can find out more about Filantrofilia and their work here.

 

 

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