Maria E. Johannpeter

Organization: 
ONG Parceiros Voluntários
Year founded: 
1997
Country: 
Brazil

Parceiros Voluntários enhances human development through organizing volunteers to find solutions to social demands within the community.

Focus: Civic Participation
Geographic Area of Impact: Brazil
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 150,000 (2010)
Annual Budget: US$ 1,000,000 (2010)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 20%
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2004

Background
Volunteerism is usually considered to be a non-essential activity for retired, older people or part of a compulsory community service requirement for younger people graduating from high school. The majority of volunteer activity often stems from a paternalistic attitude that is unidirectional, as one person gives and another receives, as in charity. In Brazil, as elsewhere, people expect the government to respond to social needs. Parceiros Voluntários has undertaken the enormous challenge of changing the mindsets of individuals so they take responsibility for the social conditions of their community.

Innovation and Activities
Parceiros Voluntários prepares people, corporations, schools and universities to improve the quality of life within a community through organized volunteer work, while preparing non-profit organizations to effectively deploy the skills and goodwill of these volunteers. The success of Parceiros Voluntários comes from its capacity to tap into people's desire to participate meaningfully in a community. It cultivates a level of competency in people of all ages and walks of life and teaches leadership skills. It also provides a vehicle for companies to engage in corporate citizenship, sharing the strengths and skills of their staff with civil society. In this way, the motivation of their staff is enhanced, as is the company's reputation. Parceiros Voluntários also qualifies young people to perform civic service, and supports schools in their efforts to extend this approach to the communities where they are sent.

Parceiros Voluntários is not just a coordinator of volunteer activities, volunteer centre or human resource placement agency. By training both the volunteer and the organization that receives the volunteers, it stimulates people of all ages to see themselves as agents of social transformation.

In 2010, the organization involved nearly 370,000 volunteers, including 81,000 young people, and 1,945 schools, 2,473 companies and 2,784 civil society organizations. To replicate its approach throughout Brazil, Parceiros Voluntários is working in collaboration with SEBRAE (Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises), and in partnership with the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), to promote professionalism and enhance the credibility and visibility of civil society organizations.

The Entrepreneur
The youngest of 10 children, Maria Elena Pereira Johannpeter was born in the pampas of Rio Grande do Sul to a humble agricultural family, whose father died when she was an infant. As her mother could not look after her children while also working outside the home, she sent them to different schools run by religious orders where she knew they would receive an adequate education, food and lodging. As a result, Johannpeter did not experience a family life with her siblings, and it was only as adults that they developed relationships. Even so, she vividly recollects her mother as a leader and supporter who worked with and for others in her community, and draws on her mother's experience for inspiration for her own work.

Innovation and Activities
Parceiros Voluntários prepares people, corporations, schools and universities to improve the quality of life within a community through organized volunteer work, while preparing non-profit organizations to effectively deploy the skills and goodwill of these volunteers. The success of Parceiros Voluntários comes from its capacity to tap into people's desire to participate meaningfully in a community. It cultivates a level of competency in people of all ages and walks of life and teaches leadership skills. It also provides a vehicle for companies to engage in corporate citizenship, sharing the strengths and skills of their staff with civil society. In this way, the motivation of their staff is enhanced, as is the company's reputation. Parceiros Voluntários also qualifies young people to perform civic service, and supports schools in their efforts to extend this approach to the communities where they are sent.

Parceiros Voluntários is not just a coordinator of volunteer activities, volunteer centre or human resource placement agency. By training both the volunteer and the organization that receives the volunteers, it stimulates people of all ages to see themselves as agents of social transformation.

In 2010, the organization involved nearly 370,000 volunteers, including 81,000 young people, and 1,945 schools, 2,473 companies and 2,784 civil society organizations. To replicate its approach throughout Brazil, Parceiros Voluntários is working in collaboration with SEBRAE (Brazilian Service of Support for Micro and Small Enterprises), and in partnership with the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank), to promote professionalism and enhance the credibility and visibility of civil society organizations.

The Entrepreneur
The youngest of 10 children, Maria Elena Pereira Johannpeter was born in the pampas of Rio Grande do Sul to a humble agricultural family, whose father died when she was an infant. As her mother could not look after her children while also working outside the home, she sent them to different schools run by religious orders where she knew they would receive an adequate education, food and lodging. As a result, Johannpeter did not experience a family life with her siblings, and it was only as adults that they developed relationships. Even so, she vividly recollects her mother as a leader and supporter who worked with and for others in her community, and draws on her mother's experience for inspiration for her own work.