In 2016, U.S. charitable giving to international causes totaled $22 billion, a 5.8 percent increase over the previous year. Given the myriad natural and man-made disasters that struck last year, totals for 2017 will probably equal or exceed this amount. (We’ll know for sure when Giving USA 2018 comes out in a couple of weeks.) With this generosity comes risk, however.
If you give to an internationally focused U.S. charity that is in good standing with the IRS, you’re OK. But if you’re with a private foundation, donor-advised fund, or corporation that supports non-U.S. organizations, you need to take note. A number of regulations exist to prevent the transfer of charitable funds to terrorist organizations or activities. Failure to comply with all of them can have severe consequences, including adverse publicity, damage to your foundation or company’s reputation, asset freezing, civil penalties, loss of 501(c)(3) status, and even criminal prosecution.
A new report published by GuideStar tackles this problem. “Cross-Border Philanthropy and Counterterrorism Regulations: Guidance for U.S. Grantmakers,” by Andrzej Kozlowski and Kia Sullivan:
- examines the relevant regulations and U.S. agencies responsible for enforcing them;
- discusses the consequences of noncompliance;
- offers recommendations on how best to reduce the risks of diverting funds; and
- identifies key resources to help grantmakers stay on the right side of anti-terrorism laws.
Andrzej Kozlowski is principal at Paragon Philanthropy, a company specializing in international grantmaking compliance and vetting for U.S. foundations, donor-advised funds, and corporations. Kia Sullivan, Esq., is the founder of SourcePoint Philanthropy, a private practice specializing in tax-exempt law and philanthropic strategy for private foundations, public charities, and individuals.
Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar’s editorial director.