Building Community in Mexico

By: Mark Athitakis

Andamos Mexico brings management knowhow to the country's association leaders.

Guillermo Dillon Montaña, CAE, has spent a decade attending association meetings in the United States. With every trip, he grew more frustrated that his native Mexico wasn't promoting and educating its nonprofit community in similar ways or giving its leaders opportunities to network. "I concentrated a lot on my association as a staff executive, but I knew I could learn a lot from [other] Mexican associations," he says.

Late last year he did something about it: December 2011 marked the launch of Andamos Mexico, a membership organization for leaders in the country's association and philanthropic community. So far it only has 40 members, but Montaña says it is intentionally starting small, concentrating on organizations in his home base of Monterrey while it establishes itself.

Identifying the size of the nonprofit industry in Mexico is complicated: Government categorizations similar to the IRS's 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) don't exist. But Montaña says about 1,000 organizations in the country have leadership and staff that could benefit from an organization like Andamos Mexico. The trickiest challenge, he says, "is the ability to professionally manage volunteers. Many here want to volunteer, but volunteers aren't properly managed by professional staff. If you concentrate on that, that will drive membership, services, and revenue."

One of the organization's first projects is training for leaders on best practices in association management and fundraising, in part through ASAE's Certificate Program in Association Management. They are also working on defining the profile of the ideal Mexican association executive, which they'll use to help colleagues benchmark their own needs. From there, Andamos will begin working with organizations in the country's association hub, Mexico City.

"There are many small organizations all around the country," he says. "The problem is that they don't grow."

Mark Athitakis is a senior editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

Mark Athitakis

Mark Athitakis is a contributing editor to Associations Now.