Before the virus changed all, a new law required foreigner-run NGOs (Non-Government Organization, or sometimes called a charity) to stop running businesses in fields unrelated to their mission. A perspective I’ve lobbied for years to help NGO management become more focused by forcing them to drop their newspapers, restaurants, tours, stores, theaters and any other non-related businesses. The businesses drain donations thus conflicting with NGO’s reason for being.
On a more macro level, volunteer management meaning to focus on teaching art, for example, spends most of their time running businesses unrelated to teaching art. The mission suffers as funds and time are poured into the businesses instead.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with fundraising. An auction here, a concert there but the new law sees that as different than running an actual business, often called a social enterprise to make it sound, well, less business-y.
During the virus the library has shed their flea market and newspaper, the Atencion. When serving on the board the flea market was, month in and out, the largest profit generator of the various businesses. The Atencion always operated at a lost as even then the notion of a paper-based newspaper was passé. Dropping that liability aids the library’s focus on teaching art and reading to children and streamlines donations to that end.
ProNinos has moved much slower, if at all, on transitioning their focus from thrice weekly tours to other fundraising options but positive change is inevitable.
As with any transition they’ll be adjustments made but in the bigger view, both charities can return to be solely focused on what they are meant to do, providing a service to help those less fortunate. While taking a charity out of the business of running an unrelated business, the government is insuring the services provided will improve in quality. A win-win for all involved – NGO employees, donors, volunteers and, most importantly, those in need right here in San Miguel de Allende!
by Joseph Toone
- TripAdvisor’s top tour guide with History and Culture Walking Tours and Joseph Toone Tours.
- Amazon’s best selling author of the San Miguel de Allende Secrets books.
- Author of the Maria Dolls coloring book helping indigenous doll makers.
- Creator of San Miguel de Allende Secrets YouTube channel with over 100 videos and 1,500 views monthly.
- International speaker on the Power of the Feminine in San Miguel de Allende.
San Miguel Times