Impact Investment and Incomparable Fundraising in Perú

Mar 08, 2024

Let’s be honest. Fundraising in places like North America and Europe is easy. The entire ecosystem – charity law, tax incentives, the very culture of giving – is designed to drive donations. And it works. Collectively, these ecosystems raise billions. The danger, is that with this success comes a very narrow and privileged view of “how to do fundraising”. A kind of paint-by-numbers approach that assumes one size fits all, when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Fundraising in Perú, for example, is much more challenging. Not only is the gap between service need and funding massive, the giving landscape looks completely different. That’s what I love about this week’s podcast. Rather than trying to force themselves into a model that doesn’t fit, Irene Arellano and the team at CARE Peru, know the key to innovation is keeping it local.

It’s not the product, it’s the principles

A few weeks ago, Irene talked us through CARE’s new consultancy enterprise. This week we’re diving head-first into the world of impact investment. If you haven’t tuned in yet, innovations include a microloan scheme and wraparound service that invested US$70 million in 40,000 women entrepreneurs, and a pilot fund management programme that will unlock income as well as action. It’s inspired. But as incredible as these products are, the final output isn’t the point. It’s the principles behind them that are the real innovation.

This is real, relevant, and a path to resilience

Irene and the CARE team know that traditional fundraising (i.e. from institutional donors) won’t get them where they need to be. So, they started analysing and tapping into local market trends – including the growing pressure for companies to up their social and environmental game. Then they started to connect with, and have conversations with, the CEOs of these companies (their market). The result is a small, but growing portfolio of relevant, for-profit products that use CARE’s expertise in social justice as a tool to help companies do and be more. Proof that South-based NGOs can deliver brilliant programmes, do business, and elevate a social justice agenda within their partners’ core business at the same time.

It works because they’re in it together. Don’t get me wrong, I know as well as the next person, how tempting it can be to claim credit for raising big donations. But fundraising is a team game, and corporate partnerships – and I mean real, resilient, long-standing partnerships – don’t just belong to one person. The whole CARE team has bought into the process. They see the value innovation brings: both as an income stream, and as a way to extend their impact.

With this, comes a commitment to playing the long game. I’m done with Boards that expect fundraisers to perform miracles. The CARE team know they won’t be banking millions of unrestricted soles tomorrow. In fact, they’ve given themselves a realistic 5-10 years to bring “innovation” up to 50% of their organisational income. It’s a smart move that means they’ve got the time and space they need to get it right.

The real risk is doing the same stuff…

It’s an approach we could all learn from, and it’s not one Irene came up with on her own. She talked to people. Not just at CARE, but beyond Perú - learning from others’ experiences in Sri Lanka, Egypt, and Bangladesh.

The mainstream fundraising narrative is old and tired (like me). But if you break out of this box, you’ll discover – as Irene did – a whole host of causes that are trying and doing brilliant, creative things. The end result might differ, but the challenges and learnings are relevant to us all, wherever we’re based. We just need to recognise the value of this, and bring it home.

“The learning they have in every part of the world. It’s super-rich for what we can do, or you can do in your country… The value that we bring is so much higher than we sometimes believe.”

It’s why Fundraising Radicals exists. If organisations want to scale their impact, we need to get comfortable with discomfort, recognise the value and diversity of experience across the world, and learn from them. As Irene rightly points out, this isn’t just about financial sustainability. The communities we support need our services now. And with that in mind, I echo her words once again, and invite you to get creative, take a risk and reach out.

Want to find out more? Listen to the full episode here now.


I’m Craig, founder of the Fundraising Radicals, host of a podcast that imaginatively goes by the same name, and convenor of the award-winning Global Radicals: Fundraising Leadership Programme. Our aim is to turn the world of fundraising upside-down and explore alternative approaches grounded in experiences in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. We’re also a platform for global voices and perspectives, sharing diverse and new ideas and inspiration for fundraising leaders everywhere.

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Photo by McKayla Crump on Unsplash


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