6 Reasons “Friends of” Organizations Should Bank Abroad

LEGO Globe Europe Africa by AmazingBrickCreations.comThe fiscal responsibilities 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. Continue reading

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3 Dangers that Money-Changers Pose to Charities

"Zimbabwe Cash" by Jared_OakesIn Israel, more than in most countries, foreign currency is an integral part of every facet of the country’s daily economic enterprises – private, business, and public sectors, alike.

A recent released study showed that 53% of financial support to Israeli charities came from abroad. Thus, making foreign exchange exchange fees, rates, and processing times of the utmost importance to Israeli charities.

Continue reading

Insight Not Accuracy: Why The New York Times is Important

"Magnifying Glass" by deejaynyeA recent New York Times’ article attacked American charities that help build communities in  Israel’s West Bank and IRS policy that enables donations to these organizations to be tax-deductable.  As with any piece about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, many people have been quick to attack or defend the veracity of the article.

To nonprofit organizations, the value of the article is not the accuracy of the authors’ claims, but rather the article’s insight into current concerns and trends influencing the nonprofit sector.  These can serve as warnings and guidelines to US charities that operate internationally. Continue reading

4 Reasons Why NOT to Establish an “American Friends of” Organization

Israeli charities (amutot in Hebrew) rely on donations from overseas – no secret there.  Many foreign-based charities choose to create an American based nonprofit, more commonly referred to as a “Friends of” organization so donations can be tax-deductible vis-a-vis the American Federal Government. (In a previous post, I spoke about IRS trends when a “Friends of Organization” is applying for tax-exempt status.)

However, it could be that establishing a “Friends of” organization is not in your charity’s best interest. The following are some considerations that elaborate on:

Why not to establish a U.S. registered “Friends of” Organization to help fundraise? Continue reading

Are “American Friends of” Organizations a Thing of the Past?

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, allowing donations to these essentially foreign organizations to be tax-deductible.

As you can imagine, many charities registered outside of the United States consider an “American Friends of” organization as a vital part of their fundraising strategy.

Jewish causes, especially those based in Israel, are no exception to this rule. A recent report compiled by Dr. Nissan Limor estimated that foreign donations to Israeli charities from sources outside of Israel stood at 2.165 billion dollars in 2007, with much of that coming from the United States (although, he didn’t stipulate how much). There are about 1,000 new Israeli charities [amutot] created every year and it would hold that many of these organizations will seek to create an “American Friends of” supporting charity.

Hence, recent conversations I have had are causing me to worry. Continue reading

How NOT to Loan Money to a Nonprofit Organization

Loans can be a vital, strategic tool for a charity. At the most basic level, donations do not always arrive before the expenses they are needed to cover. At such times, credit – in the form of a bridge loan, for example – might be the perfect tool to allow a nonprofit to survive until the particular donation or grant is received.

The simplest way to lend money to a charity is for a donor to just give the organization the needed funds – either through cash, check, or wire transfer – with the (often unwritten) understanding that the funds will be returned at an agreed upon time. As no financial institution is involved, this type of loan is given in a relatively shorter amount of time, less complicated (no/less forms), and cheaper (no/lower interest rate and associated fees).

Nevertheless, an organization or donor might not want to procure a loan this way but rather through a registered financial institution; such as a bank, credit card company, or insurance company. Continue reading

Last Week’s Dollar: Why the Big Jump?

In the past I have written about the US dollars tough battle against a downward spiral. In short, the UnitedState’s dollar is fighting an increasingly gargantuan federal deficit and the prospect of continued low interest rates neither of which bode well for the strength of the dollar.

With that said, what happened last week that caused the dollar to soar against the shekel? Friday, October 23rd, saw the dollar close at 3.6972 while a week later on Friday, October 30th, the dollar closed at 3.7545 a jump of 1.5% in only seven days! Continue reading