When I was growing up in England my parents taught me that “If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.”
Last year the International Friendship Club (IFC) donated $1.2 million pesos to the local community. It was able to do so because the treasurer, the board, the volunteers and the office administrator all look after each peso. When it comes to handling pesos they remind me of the word “anal”, which can be defined as “someone who is really uptight or particular and who always wants things a certain way.” The control on the money the club receives and spends is always top of mind. It must be because it doesn’t belong to the club or its members. The club’s raison d’être is to give away all of its income to help the community and it is very careful about how it does that .
For example, under the Patrocinio program a club member can apply on behalf of a Mexican friend or acquaintance for help with a major medical or dental expense up to $10,000 pesos or 80% of the cost. But, before the procedure is carried out, the club must receive an estimate from the medical provider and must collect the cash owing by the patient (20% or the excess over $10,000). Once approved, the procedure is carried out and the cheque for the total is sent to the health provider. The patient gets help with the procedure but never has access to the club’s money. Tight!
IFC has budgeted to help about twenty five charities this year. They include the women’s shelter, a couple of orphanages, an AIDS prevention organization, three education programs, three musical groups and four community shelters that provide meals to those in dire need. The club also supports its own cleft palate program, which provides free surgery and follow-up care to kids born with cleft palates, and the Rotary Club’s “Aid to Families with Children with Cancer”.
The Education Committee and the Social Services Committee are given an annual budget by the board to work with and the committees meet to allocate their budget to the various organizations. During the year, each organization must submit facturas or invoices showing the amounts spent each month. Every year, a liaison person from the club visits the charity for which they are responsible and ensures that the club’s money is being spent appropriately and that the club is making a meaningful impact on the operations of the orphanage, music group or school and that the spending of IFC’s support is in accordance with the terms that the money was provided. If these criteria are not being met, then the board is informed and a decision is made to discontinue funding. Tight!
The International Friendship Club has been operation in Puerto Vallarta since 1985, has taken roughly 50,000 passengers on the Home Tours and this has enabled the club to disperse many millions of pesos and to help thousands of Mexicans with their health, education and culture. It happened because the management of IFC knows that “if we watch the pennies the pounds will look after themselves.”