Philanthropic giving is easy, right? But what about philanthropic giving that makes a difference? Slightly more difficult, right? Not so with the development of the Latin America Donor Index. The child of AVINA and the Inter-American Development Bank’s Office of Outreach and Partnerships, the Latin America Donor Index allows nonprofit groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to search for other groups with similar goals in order to pool funding. They can connect with 547 donors interested in the LAC region and unite in their giving efforts—directly targeting a chosen cause.
The focus on collaboration in giving is significant in a world where the effectiveness of aid projects is constantly questioned. One of the main purposes of the Index is to note the philanthropic actors in Latin America and gauge the amount of money distributed from North America, Europe, and Latin America itself. According to the IDB, the Latin America Donor Index includes private donors and multilaterals such as “foundations, corporate giving programs, international nongovernmental organizations, development agencies and local not-for-profit organizations with subvention programs.” However, the uneven distribution of sizes of the organizations included in the LAC donors may not be as effective at yielding collaborative ventures, especially if motivations behind their donations are different. In addition, while a wide range of organizations certainly provides more opportunities for partnerships, it may indirectly encourage small donors to attempt to partner with larger donors instead of focusing on the potential of small donor-to-donor coalitions.
The Index also relies upon each organization to provide financial information on total expenditures and does not disaggregate the variety of venues and forms that those expenditures take. Discrepancies may arise when the donor group refuses to provide expenditure or contact information on its LAC donor profile.
The Latin America Donor Index serves as an intermediary in order to encourage development and philanthropy amongst groups with similar interests and objectives. It also analyzes philanthropic trends within the region and acts as a reference to the various organizations working in Latin America (strangely, in the group’s reports, philanthropy includes not only private actors but also government donors, which don’t usually fall under the traditional “philanthropy” definition). While their website provides annual updates to quantitatively evaluate the actors and amount of giving in the region, the absence of more transparent fiscal information may hinder partnerships. Furthermore, there is no way for the Index to measure the amount of interactions it facilitates since partnerships must be developed outside of the Index database. Regardless, the attention given to philanthropic partnerships is an important step when trying to measure the effectiveness of aid.