Author Archive for Shuey Fogel

Israel’s OFFLINE Overhaul of its Nonprofit Sector (Guidestar Conference, Part 1)


The June 26th Conference Organized by Guidestar Israel — a collaborative project of the Justice Department, Registrar of Corporations, Guidestar International, NP Tech, Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and Yad Hanadiv (a.k.a. The Rothchild Foundation) — was June’s best prediction for “The Tomorrow of Jewish Philanthropy.”

In the global nonprofit sector there is much talk of cooperation and the need to combine forces to increase efficiency and cut costs, yet this synergy is hard to find. Guidestar Israel, in contrast, is actually doing it. Local charities, international organizations, private funds and government resources have all cooperated to bring the Guidestar Israel project into fruition. (And yes, it took over six years for the parties agree and get things off the ground, but we’ll choose not to focus on that for right now.)

Like many conferences, there was the good and the less good, but for those paid attention, there was also the surprising — announcements foretelling actual progress.

Posting Financial Reports to your Website Does NOT Constitute Transparency

"Look at all these papers!" by Sonrisa Electrica

In practical terms, Financial Transparency is an organization’s ability to demonstrate from a monetary perspective (1) WHAT is the charity doing and (2) WHY the charity is doing it. Moreover, the ability to clearly answer the above two questions is extremely relevant today’s environment of increased competition and the need for organizations to differentiate themselves.

But somehow, the train has derailed.

In the search for openness, we the supporters and professionals in the nonprofit sector have resigned ourselves to settling for “less.”

In our pursuit for clarity and fairness, we have allowed ourselves to be bombarded by official financial reports – reports that Boards rarely understand, let alone donors.

And ironically, these relentlessly scanned financial documents that are populating charity and watchdog sites promote openness but fail to advance comprehension.

We need a new tool to equip the masses with Financial Transparency.

Guest Post: IRS Renews Focus on International Activities by US Charities

"New York City, New Jersey (NASA, International Space Station Science, 03/14/10)" by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

This renewed focus may make Israeli charities that get funding from the US a little jittery – particularly following the IRS’s release of two private letter rulings (2010 and 2012) that denied exemption to new organizations seeking exemption for American charities that planned to do fundraising for Israeli charities. In any case, it should serve as a wakeup call to all American charities that conduct activities internationally that they need to strictly comply with the law and must avoid serving as a mere “conduit” to their foreign grantees.

Why International Nonprofits Should Consider Incorporation

"Registration Desk Sign" by NHS Confederation

“Why or why not should one be incorporated?” is the question American lawyer Don Kramer asked in his Weekly E-Newsletter back in 2010.

For Mr. Kramer, the question is a legal one. The pros and cons that he outlines deal with personal liability and procedural/substantive questions. His fantastically succinct answer refers to state statute and case law.

For some, incorporation is relevant not because of legal concerns but rather taxation benefits. Others might contemplate incorporation through the lense of fundraising and its effects on donors. And yet to others, the act of incorporation or registration is simply a question of time and money — lacking either of the two might automatically render incorporation as an unwarranted expense.

As a banker, and more specifically, as a banker that deals with international nonprofits, I’m interested in easing a charity’s ability to open and manage a bank account.

So like any good Jew, I’ll answer a question with a question. When seeking to solve the riddle of “Should I incorporate?” I ask the following: Will your charity operate internationally?

If the answer is yes, then incorporate. It will make banking a whole lot easier.

Weekly Roundup: February 12

I’ve got a lot to catch up on. This post covers: U.S. Regulations • Jewish or Israel • Finance & Fiscal Health • Strategy & Governance • New Year Resolutions • Fundraising & Donor Strategy • Marketing & Branding • Corporate Culture • Social Media & Internet • Personal Development

Israeli Charities Can (Begrudgingly) Now Use Credit Cards

"Credit Card Debt" by DebtCovered

After years of rumors, here-say, and unwritten code that outlawed the use of credit cards by Israeli nonprofit organizations, the newest version of the Nihul Takin [Certificate of Proper Management] from Israel’s Rasham Ha’amutot [Registrar of Charities] clearly permits the use of credit cards by Israeli charities…kind of.

Unfortunately, vague unwritten guidelines have now been replaced by confusing and unrealistic written rules. Progress?

So should your amutah [Israeli Charity] use a credit card? As no two charities are the same, that answer is best left to your organization’s board, accountant, and/or lawyer.

What I can do, however, is share the research I have done and practices I have witnessed from countless nonprofits, which will hopefully save your organization precious time.