For questions related to your sponsorship, please click here.

About Payment & Donations

Can I get a receipt for my donation?

Yes. The form of your receipts will vary by the way you make your donation payments. Your most important document is your "proof of payment." This can come in two basic forms:

  • If paying by check:             Your check stub,
  • If paying via PayPal:           The online email receipt sent to you by PayPal

If you require a more detailed summary of your payments you can:

I made a personalized donation to buy something for a specific person. How long will it take before it is delivered and installed?

We aim to have all donations passed onto their recipients within two weeks however during the following circumstances this time may be longer.

  • If we have received an over-abundance of donations at once. While this is a fantastic problem to have it can cause delays in physically getting donations to recipients.
  • If the recipient is located in a remote village we may need to schedule the delivery to coincide with other trips going to this village
  • If there is a shortage of the item donated we may need to wait until this item becomes available.
  • There is an annual six-month rainy season that often restricts our ability to go to some of the villages due to mudslides and other hazardous conditions. Difficult delivery conditions to many homes are not uncommon and need to be planned carefully. 
  • If there is some confusion over the details of your gift we will wait until we have made contact with you to ensure that the correct donation is allocated.

We always do our best to make sure the needy have items purchased by donors as quickly as we can and endeavor to keep donors aware of any beyond normal delays. However please be patient with us and remember that we a grass-roots charity with minimal resources and ask for patience, understanding, and faith that we are committed to delivering your donated items as quickly as we can.

How can I find out what a family needs?

The gallery of families, student and elderly provides information about many of the families supported through our Programs. If you require more information about a particular family, or information about families who may not be included in the student gallery then please email us at and we will come back to you with more information.

We ask that you please be patient if your inquiries about specific families are not answered as quickly as you might prefer. Many people do not have telephones and can be difficult to contact.

I do not want to use PayPal, is there another way to pay for my sponsorship? Can I pay by check?

All debit and credit card payments must go through PayPal, as we currently do not have another way of receiving these type of payments.  This remains the quickest and most secure way to process your donations.

However for alternative methods of payments such as checks please find all instructions here

Can I donate my car?

Content: Yes! Donation Line proudly accepts all vehicle donations for Mayan Families. We have towing agents in all areas of the United States ready to pickup your car donation ASAP. Non-Running, junk and salvage cars are also accepted. In addition to auto donations we accept donations of boats, trucks, RVs, motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles, planes and real estate. You can donate any of these items at: Donation Line.

Volunteering and Coming to Guatemala

I would like to coordinate a medical, veterinary, eye or dental clinic. Who do I contact and how do I go about setting one up?

Send an email to detailing what you would like to do, and we will get back to you with more information.

I am coming to volunteer – what do I need to bring?

To make sure you are prepared for the climate in the highlands, we recommend you bring layers, a light jacket, a hat, sunscreen, and wet-weather gear if you will be here during the rainy season (rain-coat, rubber boots, umbrella, etc.).

Many of the local villages where you will be volunteering are very traditional and not accustomed to western dress standards. Therefore, please come to all Mayan Families activities dressed in modest clothing (particularly if you are a woman). We ask all volunteers and visitors to wear clothing that covers their knees and shoulders and to refrain from wearing low-cut, revealing, or skin-tight clothing.

Please be aware that if you arrive inappropriately dressed to volunteer we may need to send you home to change or postpone your volunteering experience until you can find suitable clothing.

Getting Around and Visiting Guatemala

Is it safe there?

Panajachel has a very low crime rate. Most of our visitors stay at hotels on Calle Santander, which is the main boulevard for restaurants and vendors. Santander is heavily traveled by walking tourists both day and night. Incidents of crime on Santander are very rare, especially involving tourists.

Panajachel is a very international town and is used to receiving many visitors.

For any part of the world, it is always a wise practice to ensure your valuables are protected and take care against pickpockets in crowds. You may also wish to visit State Department web sites posted by your government for advisory reports on Guatemala.

How do I get to Panajachel from Guatemala City?

If you have never been to Panajachel before, we recommend a private van service. If you are coming here to visit Mayan Families, we can arrange for an honest and responsible driver to pick you up and take you to where you will be staying. Taxis from Guatemala City to Panajachel are a more expensive mode of transportation. The least expensive way is to travel by a series of public buses; however, we urge all but the more experienced travelers to steer clear of this mode of transport. Alternatively, you can rent a car through services at the airport in Guatemala City.

If you would like us to arrange a private van for you, please email your request to, and we will happily arrange that service for you.

How do I get to Mayan Families?

The best way to get to our office is via Tuk Tuk. They cost Q5 per person and small kids ride free.

In Spanish you just need to ask for: Oficina Fundcion Familia Maya, Calle del Rastro.

We are located behind the fruit and veggie market. If you find the big Catholic Church, face the entrance, stretch out your arms, your left hand will be pointing up our street, Calle del Rastro, about a block and a half up.

We have a sign on the building and a big wire mesh gate at the entrance where you can just ring the bell.

Our office number is 7762-2490 or 7762-2390.

How do I make reservations to stay in Panajachel?

If you would like us to make reservations for you at one of our preferred hotels, please send your request to, and we will get back to you.

Alternatively you can book through such recommended booking portals as or Panajachel is a small town, so any hotel located in Pana will be walking distance from our headquarters or a 65-cent (per person) tuk tuk ride away.

Will I have internet access in a hotel?

Most hotels do provide some form of internet or WiFi access. Quality of equipment and speed of service vary from hotel to hotel however Panajachel has many Internet cafes and WiFi spots which are very inexpensive and generally good quality.

Can Mayan Families arrange a local homestay?

Yes, Mayan Families can arrange a local homestay with or without meals. For further inquiries please contact

Do calling cards work there?

Unfortunately there are no 100% yes or no answers to this question.

The international calling capabilities and charges vary from service to service. In most cases, and depending on the phone you're calling from, you will be able to dial a 1+800 number preceded by the country code where that 800# is recognized. However, calls from Guatemala to 800#'s in other countries are not necessarily free. You may be charged a local per-minute rate to call your service's 800# if it is not in Guatemala. Typically, that charge is $.30 per minute for the duration of your call.

Panajachel has many Internet cafes and WiFi hot spots which offer phone services at very low costs. We find that increasingly visitors find it easier and cheaper to bring laptop computers and use Skype to make inexpensive phone calls home.

Do shops and restaurants take U.S. dollars?

Generally it is best to assume no. Most will only accept Guatemalan Quetzales. However, Panajachel has many money exchange locations who give fair rates and are honest. Using an ATM often provides the best rate of exchange.

Sometimes a restaurant will accept foreign money but cannot make change due to the significant difference in the exchange rate. It is not uncommon for someone to have to wait 20 or 30 minutes for the change from paying their bill while a runner is sent with the customer's money to money changer.

Is the food safe to eat?

Panajachel has many tourists from all over the world. Restaurants marketing themselves to tourists know they must serve safe food or go out of business. That said, fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled, such as grapes and tomatoes, purchased in markets should always be sanitized before eating.

Never drink water from the tap. Always drink purified water. This is readily and cheaply available.

How much do I allow for food each day I visit?

  • Breakfast consisting of juice, coffee, eggs, beans, cheese, and toast averages US$2.50 - $3.50
  • Lunch consisting of a smoothie, soup and sandwich averages US$4.50 - $5.50
  • A typical full dinner (excluding alcohol)  averages US$6.50 - $8.00
  • Gratuities may or may not be included in bills. Average expectation is 10%.

I don't speak Spanish, so will I need to find a translator?

A friendly smile, honest eye contact, and best attempts to speak the local language are usually met with cooperation and help. If you are planning to spend your entire trip close by Mayan Families and don’t plan on going into indigenous communities to do your own thing, you should not need a translator.

It should also be appreciated that many of the indigenous people only speak their own native languages and not Spanish. Our indigenous staff is bilingual in Spanish and Kaqchiquel. Some also speak a bit of English and Tz’utujil.

What kind of money should I bring?

We suggest that you do not bring large amounts of cash with you.

Use bank cards at ATMs. There are several ATMs in Panajachel that accept international cards if they work on the larger networks, such as Star, Co-Op, and Plus. Check with your card supplier to understand more, as well as advise them that you might be making withdrawals in another country. The local machines will convert your home currency and dispense Guatemalan Quetzales at the prevailing exchange rate, plus a service charge per withdrawal. Stolen bank cards and credit cards are not valued on the black market here however there have been reported cases of ATM machines to that have been tampered with. Our best advice is to seek local advice when you get here on same ATM machines to use. If you prefer to bring enough cash for your planned expenses, Panajachel has several reputable money exchangers who give fair exchange rates. We can assist you in the exchange of U.S. dollars for Quetzales if required.

What shots do I have to get before I come?

Consult with your personal physician and visit the CDC web site for further information.

About Mayan Families

Where can I get more information about the nonprofit status of Mayan Families?

Please see our IRS letter granting Mayan Families 501.c.3 status

What is Mayan Families’ Tax Number?

TAX ID NUMBER: 20-8433997

About Planned Giving

What sort of gift plans also return income to me?

You have the option of making a gift that returns income to you, your spouse, or other individuals, such as a charitable gift annuity, or charitable remainder unitrust or annuity trust.

What tax deduction will I receive for my gift?

Your tax benefits will depend on several factors: the type of gift, the time at which it is made, whether it is outright or deferred or has any income payments. In general, though, here are some guidelines:
  • Outright gifts generate a full income-tax charitable deduction. Outright gifts of appreciated securities are deductible at fair market value, with no recognition of capital gains -- a great tax benefit!
  • Gifts of personal property, like art, books and collectibles, are fully deductible so long as they are relevant to the Mayan Families mission. We can advise you on this point.
  • Bequests do not generate a lifetime income tax deduction. They are exempt from estate tax.
  • Similarly, life insurance distributions are not income-tax deductible, but are exempt from estate tax. If you have made us the irrevocable owner and beneficiary of a policy during your lifetime, you may deduct annual gifts that offset premium payments.
  • The charitable deduction for a gift that returns income to you, such as a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust, is the fair market value of the gift asset minus the present value of the income interest you retain.

I want to set up a life insurance policy, naming Mayan Families as the beneficiary, but retain ownership of the policy. Can I deduct the premium payments I make?

No. The IRS would not consider that a "completed gift" – they'd say that, as the owner of the policy, you could change the beneficiary designation to a friend or family member. We must be made the irrevocable owner of the olicy for gifts offsetting premium payments to be deductible.

I’ve heard that transferring gifts of IRA assets to charity are advantageous. Why?

Qualified retirement plans such as IRAs, 401(k), 403(b), and Keoghs allow individuals to defer paying taxes on a portion of their income until the assets are withdrawn during retirement years. However, after a person's death, these accounts are often exposed to income and estate taxes, at a combined rate that could rise to 75% or even higher on large taxable estates. The tax will be paid at some point—by your estate and your heirs unless contributed to charity. In other words, by giving retirement assets to charity you receive double benefits. Your estate and heirs will not be taxed on the portion that goes to charity and you will support Mayan Families!

I'd like to donate a painting. Will you determine its value for my income tax deduction?

The IRS requires that donors of artwork and collectibles secure an independent appraisal of the items to establish fair market value. The appraisal has to be related to the gift, too – an insurance appraisal won't suffice. We can assist you on this point.

I'm interested in establishing a charitable gift annuity. What financial provisions will you make for the income payments to me and my spouse?

Your charitable gift annuity will be treated as a general obligation of Mayan Families, backed by all of our assets. We have an unbroken record in making timely payments to our annuitants, and that ongoing responsibility is a key element in our financial policies.

If I create a bequest or life-income gift, will you continue to ask me for annual contributions?

Your planned gift is a significant addition to our long-term financial strength and our ability to meet the challenges and opportunities the future will bring. However, today's efforts are supported through annual gifts and we greatly appreciate and encourage any annual support you may want to consider.

How do I name Mayan Families in my estate documents?

I hereby leave $____________ as an unrestricted cash gift to Mayan Families Inc., a 501 (c)(3) dedicated to improving the lives of indigenous Guatemalans and whose current mailing address is Mayan Families 2609 Hartford St. San Diego, CA. 92110-2315 and whose tax identification number is 20-8433997. This cash gift is to be used as needed to support the general mission and purposes of this organization.
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