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

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Can my Israeli Nonprofit have a Credit Card?

The Answer

The answer should hopefully be “yes,” nonprofit organizations can use credit cards.  Credit cards have become an integral part of running any kind of business; whether it be a not-for-profit or a for-profit corporation.   Credit cards are safer than cash and are the preferred method of payment when shopping on the internet.  Not to mention, the ease of an itemized monthly billing statement.  Nonprofit governing agencies should love credit cards and promote their use whenever possible.

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. Continue reading

The New Jersey Scandal, Pt. 3: The IRS Expected Response

The arrests of 44 individuals–including, 3 mayors, 5 respected community rabbis, a score of government officials, and others–on Thursday of last week (July 23) should highlight the dangers of organizations donating to international causes; and I guarantee you, the I.R.S. is having similar thoughts.

I believe that two reactions can be expected.

1. Greater Scrutiny of Charities

The fear that a charitable donation might not be used for a charitable purpose is not new. The U.S. Department of Treasury has long known the important role that charities play in financing terror and released in 2006 its third version of “Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S. Based Charities.” Continue reading

The New Jersey Scandal, Pt. 2: The Israel Fallout

Even before the dust settles in the States, Israel and her charities will already start to feel the effects from last week’s scandal.

First, we can expect that donors’ skepticism of Israeli charities will increase, which is understandable. The current proliferation of nonprofits already casts doubt on their authenticity: Israeli charity-representatives hound communities weekly; American Friend organizations exist in abundance; internet and email advertisements appear on every Jewish website broadcasting Israel’s fight for its physical and spiritual survival. In short, this scandal has cast a shadow on a situation already wrought with suspicion, doubt, and misconception.

Second, we can expect the relationship that exists between Israeli amutot [nonprofits] and money changers to come under fire. Charities need their donation-checks to clear as soon as possible. As opposed to banks, “cash houses,” or money changers, can exchange cash for checks (for a one to two percent fee) with a wait time of zero to two days. Thus, Israeli charities regularly deposit large sums of cash received from money changers into their bank accounts. Continue reading