Readers were surprised to see a piece on the cover of the Atencion newspaper this week about the new NGO (Non-Government Organization, or charity) law since the new law specifically targets NGOs like the English library that owns the paper. Well, any NGO that is running businesses in fields unrelated to their mission statement. A perspective I’ve lobbied for years and will help NGOs become more focused by forcing them to drop their newspapers, restaurants, tours, stores, and any other non-related businesses many of which drain donor donations.

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Unfortunately, the act of a charity running one, or several businesses, has become ripe with corruption and conflicts of interest.  For example, if the charity’s focus is dental care for children, why are they in an unrelated business getting income and tax bonuses a Mexican citizen, in the same business, can’t receive?

On a more macro level, volunteer management meaning to focus on teaching art spends most of their time running businesses unrelated to the mission statement and often to the mission’s determent as donations and time poured into the business.

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.

As with any transition, they’ll be adjustments made but in the bigger view, the charities can return to be solely focused on what they do best, providing a product or service to help those less fortunate.  While taking a charity out of the business of running an unrelated business, the government is ensuring the services provided will improve in quality.  A win-win for all involved – employees, volunteers, clients, and the government.

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Joseph Toone is the Amazon bestselling author and Historical Society’s award winning short story author of the San Miguel de Allende (SMA) Secrets book series.  Toone is San Miguel de Allende’s (SMA’s) expert and Trip Advisor’s top ranked historical walking tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s San Miguel de Allende.

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