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

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

Nonprofits’ War of Independence

Professor Joel Fleishman, author of “The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World,” is very clear on one thing: America has a long history of positive social change affected through the initiatives of private individuals and foundations.   These nongovernmental institutions have been succesful because of their greatest weapon, independence.   An article that was recently forwarded to me in The Commentary Magazine entitled, “The War on Philanthropy”, by David Billet, argues that this autonomy is under fire. Continue reading