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.
…Those Israeli nonprofits that choose the second option of a Conduit (also referred to as an Intermediary or Fiscal Agent) are in luck, as recent years have seen an quasi-explosion in the number of American charities that offer Conduit services. This being the case, foreign organizations have luxury and liberty — and some might argue the responsibility and obligation — to investigate the various Intermediaries so as to choose the best fit for the nonprofit. And, yes, all Conduits are by no means the same.
My six criteria for judging a potential Fiscal Agent: Cost, Currency, Time, Payment Method, Communication and Association.
Recent years have seen an explosion of these types of charities. With so many to choose from, Israeli charities have the luxury of choosing their partner – and they should because all Conduits are not the same. But, of course, the only way to finding the right fit is to ask the important questions, namely: Cost, Currency, Time, Payment Method, Communication and Association.
The fiscal requirements of an American charity have become more complicated in recent years. Increased scrutiny from the IRS, more intricate tax documentation, the recent economic crisis, and donors’ need for transparency, are just a few of the challenges facing the sector. When a charity operates internationally these difficulties are only exacerbated. These global organizations are expected to be familiar with regional and global charity regulations, comfortable working in foreign languages and cultures, able to cope with inherent increased expenses, and capable of forging new relationships – all while maintaining a high level of accountability.
A powerful tool in helping a “Friends of” organization cope is an additional account abroad in the country in which it operates. When used to its potential, this kind of account is invaluable.
A list of the essential articles that I posted to Twitter from April 11 – April 24, 2010. This week’s topics include: Strategy & Governance; IRS Trends; Social Media & Fundraising; Jewish Nonprofits; Israel Economy & Finance; and Potpourri.
International organizations have been highly successful in raising funds from the United States through U.S. based charities commonly referred to as “Friends of” organizations. These charities are registered in the States and have 501(c)3 tax-exempt status and, thus, allowing these donations to these essentially foreign organizations to be tax-deductible.
As you can imagine, many international causes consider a “Friends of” organization as a crucial step in their fundraising strategy.
Hence, recent conversations I have had are causing me to worry.
But, alas, in Israel the answer is no…kind of. Cryptic, but true. That is to say that in my experience as a banker, I have both ordered credit cards for charities that wanted them and canceled credit cards for charities that were told it was “illegal” to have them.