With 1.5 million charities located in the U.S. and an even larger number worldwide competing for donor attention and dollars, the opportunities for your organization’s sustained financial success become more difficult each year. If your organization is looking to expand its reach and raise money by raising its international donor profile and influence, here are seven issues to consider:
Legal implications and licensing: Charities operating outside their home country usually need to register with the municipal, county, state or national government where they plan to operate. Operating without proper permits may result in warnings, fines, expulsion or even imprisonment. The registration process may be time-consuming, expensive, involve multiple levels of government bureaucracy and require the services of a translator.
Scams, ripoffs and terrorism/criminal enterprises: Charities operating overseas must comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it unlawful for anyone involved in any U.S.-based business to offer or make an offer of money to any foreign government official in order to obtain or retain business. While this might seem unlikely for a charity, the temptation to pay a court official for access to a list of powerful and wealthy potential donors is one possible scenario. U.S.-based foundations also need to have an understanding that many foreign countries lack the protection of a Consumer Protection Agency, formal justice system or a Better Business Bureau to help deal with scam operations and ripoff artists who offer to help with connections in exchange for a fee, or use extortion or kidnapping as a means to make their own money. And both the U.S. Patriot Act and U.S. Executive Order 13224provide strict guidelines for dealing with any known terrorist individuals or groups, or rendering aid and assistance to such, even if done without malice.
Money and banking:American charities doing overseas fundraising must file a Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts report by June 30 each year if the account holdings exceed a certain amount. Charity leaders need to be cognizant of monetary fluctuations and take exchange rates into account while fundraising and when completing their annual financial report.
Trademark and copyright laws and sensitivity:What is acknowledged as your brand, logo and trademark in the U.S. may belong to another company in a foreign country, and using it there may result in criminal charges. And images that are legal and acceptable in one part of the world may be highly offensive and even illegal in another. The expertise of an international trademark attorney will prevent legal problems overseas.
Insurance:It is strongly recommended that staff working in foreign countries carry insurance to cover them in the event of illness, injury, arrest and civil litigation against them or the charity. While such coverage is an expense, it is modest compared to the many possible situations that can arise and alter or even halt your foundation’s operations.
Partnering: While most charities prefer to keep the funds they raise, it’s also a wise decision to partner with a similar charity in a foreign country and share donations. Your foreign colleagues offer knowledge and access not easily gained without the insight of some local leverage.
The best part of fundraising is that technology crosses borders: Contribulet’s platform makes fundraising easy through shopping; buy goods at participating stores and a portion of what you spend goes directly to charity. The software operates anywhere, on any device, and managing fundraising is simple for both business and buyer. Contact us and find out how to organize a fundraising event, shop the app or become a supporting business.