Monday, August 15, 2011

Does Mexico Have A Charitable Giving Problem?

Mexico has all the trappings of a perfect tourist destination: Beaches, great weather, beautiful scenery, and plenty of fun activities.  This doesn't mean it's without problems.  Gruesome murders and violence have plagued the country in recent years, sparking policy makers and advocacy groups to try and find a reason for it.  There are plenty of theories out there, but The Washington Post has reported on one that I find very interesting: A lack of corporate and individual philanthropy.

The article cites a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that lists Mexico as having very weak charitable giving numbers.  This is despite the fact that the country has the lowest taxes and second-highest inequality of income of the 34 nations in the OECD.  Although philanthropy levels have improved since a 0.04 percent mark in 2003, they are still lower than they should be.

Much of the charitable giving that does go on in Mexico is very informal, according to the Post article.  Philanthropists don't want to take public credit for fear of extortion and kidnapping.  This has led to a population that is eager to donate because of the recent outbreak in violence, but one that is also weary of attracting too much attention to themselves.  There is also a serious corruption problem among Mexican officials, leaving potential donors skeptical of charities.  Mistrust is one of the core reasons behind Mexico's philanthropy problem.

It's anybody's guess as to how to increase Mexico's charitable giving.  Some will say that decreasing the violence is key, but that's a whole problem in and of itself.  The article ends with a suggestion from the executive director of the Mexican Center for Philanthropy, who says that Mexico needs tax reform.  This is a very fascinating issue, and I suggest heading over to The Washington Post to read the full article.

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