People often prefer to donate food rather than money, and there is an official foodbank organisation in Tenerife, the Banco de Alimentos de Tenerife, familiarly known as Bancoteide. This organisation is a non-profit association founded in 2006, with the specific aim of receiving food from the Fondo Español de Garantía Agraria (FEGA), from private businesses like supermarkets, and from the public. Public donations usually result from the association running specific campaigns but can be made at any time. The food is stored and then distributed to the neediest residents of Tenerife via charitable institutions and official social assistance outlets which have the closest contact with those in need.

Products are collected in the Mercatenerife warehouse in the Polígono El Mayorazgo near Santa Cruz where they are weighed and put through a quality control procedure. They can, however, be donated in local supermarkets which collaborate in “Operaciones Kilo”, or through one of the affiliated associations listed HERE – that is a page from Bancoteide’s website HERE. So, we can donate food direct to the warehouse, through participating supermarkets (just ask if they are part of “operaciones kilo”), or via any of the affiliated associations on that extensive list.

When it comes to charitable giving other than food, the principal charity in Spain – indeed the world – is Caritas, a part of the Catholic Church. Here in the Canaries, the regional branch is Caritas Canarias, and it has as its stated aim to help those in need in these islands, and particularly those in social exclusion, whether through homelessness, poverty or illness. There are various levels on which one can help, but perhaps the most common is a simple donation, which can be made through THIS page on Caritas Canarias’ website – these donations are tax deductible.

There are other charities, of course, the main one of which is perhaps the Cruz Roja (Red Cross). HERE is the section of the website for the Tenerife province, which also aims to help the dispossessed and socially excluded. HERE is the page with information about donating – if you click on the link on the right hand side which says Donativos afectados crisis en España you will get a pop-up box showing banks and the relevant account numbers for donations. Donations can also be made direct through the website on THIS page; again, donations are tax deductible.

Something frequently overlooked when we talk about charities in Spain is the actual word “charity”, in the sense of an organization. Despite constant use of the word in fund raising activities, there is actually no direct equivalent in Spain to that which we understand as a charity in the UK. Rather, there are two types of charitable organizations: an  asociación (association) and a fundación (foundation). There is a significant difference between the two, since a fundación must have an asset base of €30,000 and a board of trustees as basic legal requirements, whereas an asociación is far simpler and virtually free to set up, but either is what we would recognize as a “charity”, though the latter might equate more to a charitable trust.

Even though there is no central charity commission in Spain as there is in the UK, there are strict administrative, fiscal and legal controls over the fundraising activities and expenditure of fundaciones, in addition to the requirement for them to have significant assets and a board of trustees. It is, too, only fundaciónes whose names are legally required to be registered, and only they benefit from tax relief on donations (law HERE).  An asociación can only gain such fiscal benefits if they have a declaration of “utilidad pública” (public usefulness) from the Ministerio del Interior, for which they must already have been in existence, and acting effectively, for at least two years.

It is fair to say that Spain has known scandal after scandal concerning bogus “charities”, and given the far stricter regulations governing fundaciones, the scandals normally arise with asociaciones – or organizations falsely claiming to be asociaciones. The very least one can do is check that an organization claiming to be a “charity” is at least an asociacion, if not a fundacion. There is a government page HERE where you can check if an asociación is genuine – just put in the name of the organization and if it exists it will show you the record, including the registration number, which then can be double checked against the number claimed by an organization.

It is sad to caution scepticism and suspicion, but experience and legal advice say they are essential to avoid being cynically exploitated. At the very least, I hope the above has helped provide some information for readers to begin to check that they are donating to genuine causes, rather than putting them off donating at all, because there is increasing need for, and reliance on, charitable giving in Spain at present.

This article has 33 Comments

  1. Hi Janet,

    Great site and very interesting reading.

    I’m a journalist for the Round Town News, near Alicante.
    We have a lot of events that are sold on the basis that they are for charity.

    Just two questions that maybe you can point me in the right direction, either to ask the correct authority or find out more information.

    Charity raffles
    Some events are promoted as being charity events. However, the only thing that happens is that the charity runs a raffle in the interval. The club or promotor keeps all the ticket, food and bar sales?
    Is it legal to promote the event as a fundraiser?

    Overseas Charities.
    Some promotors organise events for a charity.
    However, they say they are giving funds to UK based charities that do not have any legal standing in Spain. A good example is Help for Heroes. They are a fantastic charity but do not technically exist in Spain. The same happens for other excellent UK based charities such as the RSPCA, Children In Need, McMillan Trust and Cancer Research UK.
    How legal is this to do?

    Or/and, can you advise me which Spanish department I should contact, or should I ask advise from the Guardia Civil?

    Many thanks

    Keith
    keithnicol.com

  2. Hi Keith, thanks! I’ve looked into this issue because there are more “benefit events” per square km in Tenerife than anywhere else I’ve known, I think! I asked a lawyer chum about it and he said that there is nothing stopping establishments advertising anything – there’s no equivalent, in real terms, to the UK’s “advertising standards authority”. If someone suspected fraud or malfeasance, of course, then they would have the normal route of issuing a denuncia available to them.
    .
    You might have noticed – or rather, “not” noticed! – that I hardly ever promote charity “events” on my website. I posted one yesterday, of course, about the Walk for Life breast charity event, but this is a major annual event now in its tenth year which clearly has official approval since it is co-sponsored and organized by two municipal authorities. The reason I don’t have bar-type “charity” events is because the lawyer I was speaking to advised me to have nothing to do with them because, in his words, the “vast majority are not what they seem”: by this, he explained, he meant a variety of problems ranging from outright fraud to money being creamed off, or only a small portion actually going to the “charity” concerned.
    .
    It’s a constant beef of mine that people claim an event is for a charity, or often a “registered” charity, when there is no such thing in Spain. It’s the very word that’s the problem – a “charity” is a British organization. In Spain they are either an “asociación” or a “fundación” – but no-one ever uses these words, so it is left to the public to decide what it might be! Indeed the very fact that organizers don’t explain in detail what is happening, or what their cause is, or what they mean by “charity” (or “registered” come to that!) reinforces the lawyer’s words. He said that anyone with a reputation to protect – as I do with this blog and I’m sure you do with your own work – just could not afford to be tarnished with the “inevitable scandal that will erupt from time to time” (his words).
    .
    I’m afraid this isn’t going to be very heartening for you to read, but I do hope it’s clarified one or two things.

  3. Hi, hope you can assist, is a registered UK charity liable to pay IVA when they advertise their services in Mainland Spain through a newspaper?

  4. I’m sorry I have no idea. I would ask tax experts who also know the mainland (we have a different tax here – IVA doesn’t apply in the Canaries). Try Blevins Franks, whose contact details are HERE.

  5. I would like to know if you can look at a charities annual records ?

    If so where do you go to see a copy ?

  6. well, as I say above, there’s no such thing as a “charity” in Spain. An asociación or a fundación are public organizations, however, and they will be officially registered. You need to determine what type of organization it is, and take it from there.

  7. I have no idea, Paul, I’m sorry. The only way to find out is to ask for their association or foundation details. If they have one or the other, you’ll know they’re “official”. There’s no meaning to “legal charity” in Spain because “charity” is not a word used here as it is in the UK.

  8. I have read your article and wonder if you know the link for mainland Spain and in particular Alicante / Valencia region where I can check if a charity is an asociación or a fundación

  9. Hello Janet,
    your article is very rare, informative and useful. However, when I press the link “here” in accordance with your directions to make a check on a claimed registered asociacion, I just get a blank page. I wonder if you would be so kind as to send me the full URL address for the link so that I can try it direct.
    Thank you for the trouble you have taken to inform and help others.

  10. Thank you Janet,
    I have managed to open the page and input my query. However, the site seems to be Canaries based, and comes back with the answer that the specific asociacion of my interest has no record, but then the asociacion is Valencian based !
    Cordially,
    Ken

  11. Ken, have a look a couple of comments above … there are links to the same for Valencia, which I posted in response to someone else who enquired.

  12. Hello Janet! Thank you for such a well written and informative article, I really found all of the information very useful. I am currently working on a project investigating charity work in Spain, and I was wondering whether you knew or could help me with the following information.
    I am wondering where I could find certain statistics on Spain’s general charity work, in order to answer certain questions such as –
    How many charities are there in Spain?
    Did the number of charities grow during the economic crisis?
    What are the largest / most well known charities?

    If you know of any place where I could get a hold of this information I would really appreciate you mentioning it. Again, thank you so much I really appreciate your help.

    Mary Kate

  13. I would contact the Spanish Charity (Foundations) Association. Their website is HERE. It’s an independent organization inscibed in the national charities register in the Spanish Interior Ministry (Home Office). I would have thought they’d have all the information you need.

  14. Thank you for the informative article.
    I am not sure if you can help with the following questions –
    I have a friend who works part-time as an office administrator, mornings only for a local Costa Blanca charity for the homeless. She has recently been seconded to the board.
    Q1. Can a part time employee serve on the board? She is one of two paid part time staff in the charity. There is nothing in the statutes which prohibitr this.
    Q2. She works as an efficient Office Administrator. Am I right in assuming that it is not a legal requirement for her to be fluent in Spanish in such a position. Am I correct in this assumption? Once again, there is nothing about this in the statutes.

  15. I’m sorry but I don’t know. I can see no reason, however, why a part-time employee should not be on the board … but this is something to clarify with the charity itself or someone qualified to answer. As to language, I know of no law that requires such an admin position only to be filled by someone who can speak Spanish.

  16. Hi Janet. You may be the person to help me here. Our rock choir in Murcia is an association recognised by the local council. I am the Treasurer (newly appointed). Word has it that if we leave sums of money in our bank account (mainly subscriptions from choir members) this might attract a tax bill in the future. Do you think there could be any validity to this assertion? Thanks Janet.

  17. I’m sorry but I’m not in fact the person to help you. I can’t answer tax questions because I’m just not qualified, nor even informed enough to give an informal opinion. You need to ask an asessor or contador (qualified financial adviser or accountant). Apologies.

  18. Hi Janet,
    Would you please know if we are able to donate some medical supplies to a charity / hospice or similiar?
    We have some friends coming to visit and we’ve taken delivery of 3 weeks supply of kidney dialysis via intravenous drip including the necessary equipment. The friend has had blood test results to say that he doesn’t now need the dialysis while he is here. Do you know of a somewhere that I can donate this all to? Thank you Janet and look forward to hearing back from you.
    Janine

  19. I don’t know specific details of where you could donate them, but the Green Hospital does have a dialysis unit. I would contact the staff there as a first port of call.

  20. Hi Janet,
    First of all, thank you for creating such an informative site! I am currently researching whether there are tax exemptions for those that live in the Canary Islands and donate to charity in their wills? And if so, does that charity have to be in the UK or Mallorca? I cannot seem to find anything on the subject.
    If you could reply as soon as you can that would be fantastic, I would really appreciate your expertise.

  21. Thank you for your kind comments! Unfortunately I can’t answer tax queries because I’m not informed enough, nor qualified to do so. I recommend you contact either Diana McGowan or Paul Montague, both are qualified tax professionals and links to them both are on my Resources page in the Financial section.

  22. No problem. Thank you ever so much for your prompt response, I will be in contact with Diana and Paul.

  23. Hi Janet
    I have a small charity supporting people with dementia in th UK and as my daughter has moved to Yenerife we are keen to do the same there. Do you have any idea if there is a similar organisation in the canaries and how I can find out how many people are affected by dementia in Tenerife? I have tried contacting the hospitals but it’s not clear if dementia falls under geriatrics, neurology or psychiatry.

    I would be most grateful for any pointers
    Kind regards
    Liane

  24. Speak to Caroline Kirk Cumming, of the Callao Salvaje church. She was doing a specific study into Alzheimers recently. Easiest perhaps to contact her via Facebook HERE.

  25. Hi I want to organize a charity run in Mallorca. Do I need permission to do this? Are there special conditions?

    Can’t seem to find any guidance would appreciate some advise.

    Thanks

  26. I’m afraid you’ll need to ask the authorities in Mallorca … I can’t comment on rules that may apply in the Balearics, which is a different autonomous region.

  27. Janet please can you tell me if we make a Spanish will regarding our two apartments in Tenerife can we leave these to a Spanish (reputable) Charity and would there be any tax to pay by this Charity (IHT etc.)We are non-resident tax payers (we rent the two apartments out)

  28. As non-residents, you can leave your property to whomever you like, including a Spanish asociación or Fundación. The only requirement is that your Will must say you wish British law to apply to your bequests – but all Wills drawn up now will include this clause as standard. As to the tax aspect, however, I’m afraid that this is a question you need to pose to a qualified tax adviser. Apologies, but with tax questions you need to ask people who are qualified to answer.

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