Did you know that during the 90’s, Ecuadorian foundations were notorious for money laundering? In fact, some foundations were started by for-profit companies solely to receive tax breaks and engage in forms of double dipping with the funds they received.
While this history of foundations can evoke many a skeptic to not get involved, the reality is that there are many deserving and amazing types of organization here in Ecuador that desperately need the support of people like you. As with everything, a little “know how” and knowledge can go a long way.
Along with language and culture, every ex-pat must also navigate the pitfalls and pinnacles of getting involved in things they care about in their new community. From getting your driver’s license, opening a bank account, to donating to your favorite cause, the procedures and processes are different and can be convoluted.
In the United States, and elsewhere in the world, being informed about where you give your hard-earned dollars has become a full-time job for many foundation watchdogs that thoroughly vet and rate charities, such as Charity Navigator or Charity Watch.
This idea about informed giving has been on the rise in the US and it’s easy to see why. With the threat of financial wastefulness, scams and program ineffectiveness, it is more important than ever that donors are assured that their money is going to causes they care about via the correct organizations. This desire of donors to be informed about where their money goes should also be applied when giving in Ecuador.
Currently, there are no independent organizations in Ecuador who vet and rate local charities. While social organizations do have a regulatory government body in Ecuador (MIES), it does not rate organizations based on program effectiveness, financial spending or transparency with their donors. Some might argue the necessity of doing so, or whether it really makes a difference if they are only contributing a small amount of money. The truth is, it does matter, and it is important.
Just like in the States, or elsewhere, there are still organizations and people who are willing to take advantage of an ex-pat’s heart strings for profit. Be weary of giving without thought in these types of situations. For example, in Ecuador, $10 is a lot of money and can go a long way toward improving the lives of most Ecuadorians. It’s important to always think of giving in the terms of “how much value is this to the people in the community?” And “will this money get to the people who need it most?” Ex-pats have to be careful not to look at donations in terms of “how little it is in US or Canada,” but rather how much it is in this country.
To make your donation money count in Ecuador vetting organizations must be done on the personal level by the donor. Your support will do little to improve our world unless we all commit together to pursue responsible and informed philanthropy.
While this may seem like a daunting task to an ex-pat who is still learning the in’s and out’s of language and culture, the reality is, you just need to know what to ask. Any organization in Ecuador should be able to answer and provide, with ease, a response to 4 simple questions.
By remembering to take this necessary step you are ensuring that your money is going to the cause you care about and is being delivered by an organization that has the credibility and past success history to make a difference in the lives of Ecuadorians.
To continue learning about giving in Ecuador check out our top 5 tips for donating!