Interview: María Bravo – co-founder of the Global Gift Foundation

Roz James (MarbellaAzul.com) & María Bravo (Global Gift Foundation)

We were delighted to have an opportunity to interview the charismatic María Bravo following the press conference for this year’s Global Gift Gala at the Hotel Gran Melia Don Pepe in Marbella. María, who was born and grew up in Marbella, is the co-founder of the Global Gift foundation which has raised $millions for worthwhile causes. She has been living and working in the USA for the last 27 years as an actress appearing in films and on TV. She is now more involved in production and her passion for philanthropy – effecting real change in the world.

María, thank you for this opportunity. Can you please tell us a little about the Global Gift Foundation for our readers and the English speaking community in Marbella?

“You are most welcome. Well, the Global Gift Foundation is a philanthropic non-profit organization which helps create a positive impact on the lives of children, women and families who need it most. It focuses on four specific causes – children, health, women and social help – providing basic needs like shelter, food, clothing, education and medical care.”

It’s clear from your website that fiscal responsibility is an essential requirement.

“It is extremely important to be transparent, especially here in Spain. We need to know exactly where the funds are going, for what purpose and we always need full documentation. I am often told I ‘micro manage’ but this is important. 100% of the funds raised go to the charities.”

How have you achieved 100% of the money raised going to the charities?

“People are always asking me how much actually goes to the charity and how much goes on administration. It’s a very good question. We needed to find a formula to deal with this problem, to make sure 100% went to the charities and it took a few years to refine. I have a great team here and in all the countries where we raise money and of course they have to be paid, also the organisation has very high running costs. It really was a challenge.

As you know, I have been acting and involved in finance throughout my working life. I have raised funds for movies and TV shows. I have learnt a lot and I have an extensive contact list. I was dating a celebrity …”

Would that be BW?

Maria laughed.

“Yes, Bruce Willis, and along with my best friend Eva Longoria I raised funds for the celebrities to make movies and TV shows and we used the same formula for the Global Gift Foundation. The relationship between celebrity, companies and brands is the key. These are people who have the financial resources to support my passion for philanthropy.”

“Through my company MandA Events, it is easy to arrange for major celebrities to appear and provide endorsements. This helps us to raise the funds to run the organization. We also spend a great deal of time speaking to people who can contribute – for example, venues, outfits for the celebrities, jewellery, make up, etc. So, this is provided with no cost to the Foundation. Consequently we are able to send 100% of the funds we raise to the people who need it.”

“Of course, this is also important for the companies providing the services. They receive much more from the celebrity endorsement than their outlay. Can you imagine how much this would cost the company if they were to book Eva Longoria to come along and say how much she loved their hotel!!”

“And this is exactly how the Global Gift Gala works.”

Can you tell us about the Casa Global Gift  – a new project this year.

“Yes, this is a very exciting project. It has long been a dream of mine and now it’s a reality. My team are always telling me I will have a street named after me. So, after much discussion, the idea of Casa Global  was born. Everyone comes to our offices, all the associations, to ask for assistance. What can be better than to incorporate the two, especially as the foundation is registered in Marbella.”

Marbella is home to my parents and my sister. I have lived in the USA for many years now, but this is my home. So, this will be a multifunctional centre for children with rare or chronic diseases and it will be formed by five Marbella associations – Bubbles & Dreams, ADISOL, Cystic Fibrosis, CADI and Adahimar.”

What will be available and where will it be?

“It will be a place where people can come for support, to feel they belong when times are hard. Sometimes, people just need to talk to others with the same problems. There will be therapy on offer, meetings and talks. The city of Marbella has donated a building and the mayor José Bernal and Victoria Morales (the Councillor for Social Rights) have helped to make it a reality.”

Clearly, philanthropy is your passion. You and other celebrities are obviously keen to give back.

“Absolutely! Remember, I come from a very humble family. If it wasn’t for Caritas, there would have been many nights when we were sleeping on the streets. This, you don’t forget. The celebrities helping the Global Gift Foundation have been carefully chosen. After all, they are representing us and our projects.”

So, this is the power of celebrities and the media working together?

“Exactly! I remember when I first met Fabiola Martinez and Bertin Osborne’s children. Their son had a very serious brain injury. They told me that so many people had contacted them about the treatment their son was receiving and wanting to know more. This is of course how people, families and mothers initially deal with these problems. And that’s why they created the Bertin Osborne Foundation, dedicated to the guide and assistance of parents of children with brain injuries. So, bringing these vital causes to the attention of everyone through celebrity and media works.”

Finally María, how can people help and get involved?

“There are so many ways people can get involved and this will become easier with the start of Casa Global Gift. Obviously, donations are extremely important and people can make donations through our website. But, people can also volunteer in so many ways by calling my team. They are multi-lingual and they will always be happy to help; just ask how. (see full details of how to donate or help below).”

How to help the Global Gift Foundation:
Click here for further information and details of how to donate
Click here for details of how to contact the multi-lingual team who are ready to help

Just as I was ending the interview, I mentioned how lovely it was to see members of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of Marbella here and the donation of €2,500 from the Global Gift Foundation. When María found out that I had MS, she immediately asked me questions and she told me the story of a friend of hers who was receiving treatment which had proved very successful – and it would be available through the Casa Global Gift. I only mention this because I sensed a genuine warmth and passion from this wonderful woman who works tirelessly to effect change in the world.

Thank you very much María for your time.

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