ACAS: Over a decade of solidarity
Apart from Anti Collision Aircraft System, ACAS is also the acronym of a charity made up by Spanish air traffic controllers. Membership, however, is not limited to controllers. Friends, family and anyone wishing to collaborate are welcome to do so in an interesting variety of projects, ranging from education and medical aid to infrastructure development, for the collectives that need it the most
Selection and funding of projects
Every year, we call for different projects from charities, which present their programs to us. These projects must comply with some requirements that have two main goals: on the one hand, we ask for projects that do not discriminate against race, religion or gender, and on the other, we look for precise and tangible projects that help the development of the addressees, not being mere alms. We also seek that we can visit the site and check how the work is carried out.
The limit of the funding is established at 10.000€ per project, which come mainly from the 20€ fee that the associate members, who are at the heart of the Association, pay every month, although we receive sometimes additional contributions from parties and sports events organized in Madrid (Torrejón ACC and Barajas Tower).
Members are also asked to participate in the Assembly where they present their candidate charities and make the final decisions. Having charities specially trusted by the members is very important for us. Since we are a small organization with a limited budget, it would make no sense to have a public call with hundreds of applications when we can only fund three or four projects every year.
Once the application deadline is over, the Executive Board forwards to all members the different options to be considered. Each member may vote for up to five of the options, scoring from one to five according to their preference. Obviously, the projects that will be finally funded will be the ones that get the majority of the votes, and the number of them varies according to the money that is available.
We must highlight that 100% of the money that is collected is dedicated to the projects. We don’t have any expenses at all, neither ordinary nor extraordinary, except the commission the bank may charge when we make the transfers. The posts in the Executive Board are not remunerated, we don’t hire any staff and we don’t own any real estate.
This is how it has been since we started, and this is how we hope that it will continue, even though, paradoxically, this lack of estate and organizational structure has prevented us from being able to access governmental aids. The Ministry of Home Affairs says that, since we don’t have any real estate or a proper organization, we can’t guarantee that we achieve the objectives established in our statutes.
This is, roughly, what we are and how we work. Now we are going to deal with what really matters: the projects we have dealt with in the last decade.
Year after year we are very sorry to see how very interesting projects, some of them with a really low budget, are left behind due to economical restraints.
We are still very few members and our resources are, logically, very limited. We distribute around 18.000€ every year among two or three projects. Not too bad, but we don’t want to stop there. If, instead of three, we could fund six, or ten, or maybe twenty, it would be much better.
But in order to make that qualitative step, we need help. We need more colleagues to join our adventure. We all know how bad the actual economic situation is, but this is precisely why our help is now more needed than ever, and with many little contributions we can do big things.
If we look back, we have achieved a lot in just over a decade, despite starting from zero and having no previous experience, we created an Association which, even though still small, it works. We don’t depend on subsidies, since we just share out whatever we collect. This independency from the public assistance makes us particularly strong, since the Administration is not able to subsidise anymore as much as it used to. We on our own have been able to fund over 30 projects worldwide, and we dream of making five or ten times as much over the next decade.
With our feet on the ground, we don’t think that society is going to change the idea they have of our collective just because we are running a charity to help the needed. The harm that has been inflicted on us is far too big to be solved in just a few years, and that if it is ever solved at all. This said, we are convinced of two things: first, we still believe that every gesture counts, and in this sense we think we are doing our bit, and second, that the recipients of our help will be deeply grateful for the rest of their lives.
We invite any of those of you who want to know more about us, to visit our website http://www.acas-ong.org, and if you like what we do, in ACAS we are looking forward to welcoming you with open arms.
Thank you everyone!
Enrique Santolaya Rey, Chair of ACAS