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How To Jump into Charity Work in Mexico

by Erin May

charity work in mexico

Countless travelers are drawn to the beauty, weather, hospitality, and culture of Mexico. But while they’re here, they are often shocked by the great need that lies just beyond the pristine resorts and gringo suburbs. 

From children’s homes to senior care centers, and from addiction support groups to teaching English, there are a wealth of charities and nonprofit organizations in Mexico that welcome helping hands.

If you want to get involved with charity work in Mexico —with time, talents, or donations—start asking around for recommendations. Conscientious neighbors will be happy to refer you to a local charity. A good place to start, check out your local Rotary club.  Rotary has an international network of clubs, and projects and organizations that are supported by those clubs.  And if you have a sizeable expat community in your neighborhood, check in with their active members on what charity work in Mexico they are taking part in. Chances are they are a driving force within the organization and will offer helpful tidbits.

Keep in mind that you really don’t need to have any special skills to make a huge impact. Only a big heart and a little time are needed. And don’t worry if your Spanish isn’t perfect. Organizers can partner you up with a fluent volunteer to make sure you’re able to communicate.

Make Sure It Is Legitimate

Like any other country, Mexico has its share of charity fraud, and you’d be smart to be concerned about the legitimacy of any charity work here. That is why every Mexican state has set regulations to make sure donations reach the intended parties.

For example, the Jalisco Institute of Social Welfare (IJAS) has been investigating charities since 1959. It applies stringent policies when legitimizing any nonprofit organization within the state. IJAS officials only register those charities and nonprofit organizations that show complete transparency. This requirement is applied to the books, donation procedures and staffing. Today, there are nearly 700 registered nonprofit organizations registered with IJAS.

The Tierra Blanca Project is also one that is near and dear to our hearts. They raise funds to purchase teaching and student school supplies for some amazing children in the village of Tierra Blanca, approximately 40 kms west of Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca Mexico, about 2 hours into the mountains from Huatulco. Funds raised have and continue to help purchase much needed supplies including notebooks, pencils, scissors, geometry sets, teaching tools, paper and textbooks. It also goes towards items for physical education, art and music. Their mission is to create an enriching environment in which to learn and grow. Their long term goal is to fund, build, and equip an elementary school for eighty students, a community kitchen, clinic, sanitary facilities, and a safe residence for two teachers and nurse.

If you have questions, ideas or offers of help through any of the phases of this project, please contact: [email protected] or visit https://www.facebook.com/TierraBlancaProject

charity work in mexicoThere are some simple questions to ask before you make a donation –

  1. Has the agency adopted the Code of Ethical Fundraising and/or a donor bill of rights?
  2. Has the organization made the financial statements publicly available and accessible?
  3. Who is on the Board of Directors?  What are their terms?  Does the Executive Director have a vote? Are any of the Board Members financially compensated?
  4. Where does the core funding come from?  How long is that funding in place?
  5. Does the agency have a strategic plan?  How often is it reviewed?  How are is the organization measuring itself against the plan?
  6. How much does it cost to the solve the problem that is being addressed?  This isn’t about what is being spent on overhead, but rather, it is about understanding if the investment in the solution matches the negative impacts on society by not solving the problem.
  7. Finally, and probably the question you are most interested in knowing the answer to, how will this agency invest your money?  How many people will be helped, animals saved, programs delivered, etc.

For more information on strategic philanthropy and donor rights there are several resources for American and Canadian donors:

  • Dexterity Consulting
  • Charity Navigator
  • GuideStar
  • Charity Village
  • Imagine Canada
  • Canada Helps
  • Give Well

If you’re visiting or living outside of Oaxaca in one of Mexico’s other 30 states, check with your local government to find out if they have a similar state department. Ask for a list of qualifying charities to determine which charity work in Mexico the best fit for your interests.

charity work in mexico _1The Benefits of Performing Charity Work

Of course, getting involved with nonprofit organizations in Mexico has it benefits. Individuals and communities flourish when others give.

But did you know that volunteerism has great benefits for you?

Stephen G. Post, PhD, author of a study published in The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine (December 2011) noting: “People in general are happier and healthier, and may even live a little longer, when they’re contributing to their community or an organization they are passionate about.”

Add a little charity work In Mexico to your stay and reap these benefits:

•    Boost your physical and emotional health while gaining life satisfaction, appreciation and perspective

•    Expand your know-how with new skills

•    Increase your work experience

•    Lift your spirits, self-esteem and self-confidence

•    Lower the risk of depression and stress

•    Rest assured that you’ve made a difference – both big and small – in the lives of others and in your local environment 

•    Network with “movers and shakers” in your community

Now add work with charities and nonprofit organizations in Mexico, and you’ll have a fun-filled cultural learning experience that is second to none. It’s a win/win opportunity!

What If You Can’t Get Involved at this Time?

If you are unable to get involved in charity work in Mexico right now, non-profit organizations will always welcome monetary donations. These monies go toward the purchase of food, shelter, education and support.

Supplies are welcome, too. Below are some of the always-needed items:

  • Food (rice, beans, canned goods, produce)
  • Medical equipment
  • Medical supplies (plastic surgical gloves, ibuprofen, Neosporin, sutures, non-sterile and sterile gauze)
  • Baby supplies (diapers/wipes, shampoo/conditioner, toothbrushes/toothpaste, powder/lotion)
  • Linens (pillows/pillowcases, towels and sheets)
  • Clothes for adults and children
  • School supplies (pens/pencils, notebooks, coloring crayons)
  • Hygiene kits (shampoo/conditioner, toothbrushes/toothpaste, deodorant)
  • Books in Spanish for all ages
  • Pet supplies (cages/kennels, flea/tick medication, collars/leashes, food/bowls, toys)

If you want to enhance your time in Mexico, check out the charities and non-profit organizations in your area. There are endless opportunities that await, no matter the location or season.

If you’re involved with charity work in Mexico or a nonprofit organization, we welcome the opportunity to help you spread the word. And if you have any volunteering experiences specific to Huatulco Mexico, we’d love to hear from you!

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2 comments

'How To' Guide | Own MexicoOwn Mexico May 9, 2014 - 12:26 am

[…] How To Jump Into Charity Work in Mexico […]

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7 Sizzlin’ “How To Learn Spanish” Tips | Own MexicoOwn Mexico July 25, 2014 - 4:08 pm

[…] toe’ in the local culture by talking with the locals, joining a club or getting involved with nonprofit organizations. You’ll have fun while learning…and isn’t that what learning a new language is all about? […]

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