In This Review

Philanthropy and Social Change in Latin America
Philanthropy and Social Change in Latin America
Edited by Cynthia Sanborn and Felipe Portocarrero
Harvard University Press, 2006, 480 pp

Jointly prepared by Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, these 17 essays expertly document current trends in charitable giving, incipient foundation grant-making, and the fashionable field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The mostly academic authors are distrustful of rich corporate donors that privilege safe recipients seeking funds for education and youth development, preferring philanthropy that targets wealth redistribution and social transformation, and volume editor (and Harvard grantee) Sanborn criticizes giving that favors elite private universities. In one of the volume's most valuable and cogent contributions, Felipe Aguero attributes the growing popularity of CSR in Latin America to the region's respect for international norms, even as he sources Brazilian leadership in the field to business engagement in the national democratization process. In another smart chapter, Francisco Durand knowingly suggests that Peruvian firms do not solicit tax breaks for their corporate giving for fear of drawing the attention of fiscal authorities to their chronic tax evasion. To make philanthropy more effective, Sanborn sensibly recommends that donors form alliances with public-sector partners, reflect on the root causes of social problems, and seek to strengthen civil-society groups among the poor. For balance, Rodrigo Villar advocates greater self-regulation and transparency within the nonprofit sector itself.