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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Weekly Roundup: December 12

A collection of links to the great articles covering the nonprofit sector that I have reviewed and posted to Twitter between December 1 – December 12.  This week’s topics include: U.S. Tax & Law •  Israeli & Jewish Nonprofits  •  Strategy & Governance  •  Marketing & Fundraising  •  Potpourri. Continue reading

Guest Post: Lessons from Starting, then Closing, My Non-Profit within 4 Months

" Revolving Door Exposure" by verminincChana Mason was born in Colombia and grew up in South Florida. She has a degree in Theatrical Directing and Engineering from Dartmouth College. She has worked in management consulting, high school education, and high-tech. Since moving to Israel in 2003, she has been involved in a number of Israeli non-profits.

Recently, within a matter of months, I opened and then proceeded to close a amutah [Hebrew referring to a registered charity in Israel] here in Israel.  I wanted to open up a seminary [school focusing on religious studies] and, with the advisement of experts in the field, decided it would be best for the seminary to run under its own administrative body.  Unfortunately, we did not come to this understanding until late into the process of developing the seminary, which meant that we were rushed to register the amutah, file in the tax authorities, and open a bank account.  I learned many things in this process that perhaps can help others looking to start their own non-profit organizations. Continue reading

Weekly Must-Reads: May 16

A list of great articles from around the web that I posted to Twitter from May 2 – May 15, 2010.  This week’s topics include: Strategy & Governance; Social Media & Internet >> Fundraising; Social Media & Internet >> Recreation; Israel; Banking & Economy; and Potpourri.

I didn’t have so much time last week, forcing me to combine 2 weeks worth of links. Man, oh man. I hope you’ve got some time, there are some great articles below.  Not to mention some really funny ones, as well. Enjoy them both. 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

The New Jersey Scandal, Pt. 1: The Facts

Last week (July 23) in New Jersey, an undercover police operation revealed a rainbow of criminal dealings. The implications of the scandal vis-à-vis charities are too vast and far-reaching to be dealt with in one post.  Over the next day or two I will address the pertinent issues.  Questions and comments are welcome.

The Facts

Among the myriad accusations is the charge of the laundering of charitable donations totaling approximately 3 million dollars. The Jerusalem Post quotes sources saying that “at least some of the millions came from Israel” while the New York Times notes “much of the cash they provided him [the informant] came from Israel.” The Post explains that one of the rabbis detained “used a source in Israel to supply money through ‘cash houses’ [money changer].” The Post also quotes former Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy who said Israeli authorities weren’t involved yet but didn’t rule out their involvement a later stage of the investigation. Continue reading