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. THIS page allows a filtered search of all charitable organizations here.

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.

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