Making grants to institutions outside the United States is challenging and rewarding.This chapter of Mastering Foundation Law: The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources focuses on the various legal and technical requirements necessary to comply with the U.S. law and regulations concerning grants to non-U.S. organizations.
These resources are for U.S. foundations and grantmakers wishing to make grants abroad. The resources on this page focus on global grantmaking in general. For more specific topics, follow one of the links below. For information managing grants, see the Council’s resources on grant management.
In-Depth Topics Under Global Grantmaking:
In-Depth knowledge on Global Grantmaking
The Goalkeepers Report is published every year and charts the progress toward the Global Goals. This year’s report focuses on youth population growth that will affect future world progress.
The Council on Foundations and Foundation Center analyzed how US foundations supported international communities, non-profits, and programs between 2011 and 2015 for our report, The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations: 2011-2015. In addition to a detailed analysis of trends by issue area, geographic region, population group, and donor strategy, this analysis also relates these trends to key events and developments, including the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the spread of Ebola in West Africa, and the increasing legal restrictions faced by civil society in countries around the world.
The Council, in collaboration with the Foundation Center, created this first-ever analysis of international grantmaking by U.S. community foundations. Beyond statistics on global grantmaking trends, the report also includes interviews with five community foundations - The Boston Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, Greater Houston Community Foundation, Seattle Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation - who each approach international engagement in diverse ways.
On September 25, 2015, 193 countries formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations. The Council is committed to connecting our members with resources to learn more about the SDGs and understand how these global goals are relevant to their existing programs and strategies, globally and in the US, and provide an opportunity for philanthropy to lead together towards 2030. Get started here.
The Council actively asserts its leadership role in the global policy space to ensure a positive regulatory environment for global philanthropy. To do that, the Council develops substantive policy positions on behalf of its members and submits regulatory comments and letters to U.S. policymakers, foreign governments and intergovernmental bodies, and advocates before domestic and international bodies that set policies that impact cross-border philanthropy.
Frequently asked questions about legal basics and anti-terrorism.
Understanding the challenges of currency fluctuations on international grantmaking, and taking action to minimize their impact can ensure that this natural process does not become an added barrier to overseas giving. This resource focuses on some of the challenges foundations and giving programs and their grantees face as a result of fluctuating currency exchange rates, and highlights various ways that U.S. grantmakers are dealing with them in their international grantmaking activities. It offers insights from the field that may be useful to grantmakers considering starting an international giving program and to more seasoned ones wishing to improve their practices.
While philanthropy that crosses national borders has much in common with its domestic counterpart, it also differs in significant and challenging ways. Language differences, communication across vast distances, unfamiliar cultural values and perspectives, multiple legal systems, and disparate accounting practices are a few of the factors that distinguish international from local or national philanthropy and contribute to its complexity. Moreover, international philanthropy takes place against a complex backdrop of international politics, geo-power dynamics, government stipulations, and cultural and religious traditions, with a potentially greater degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. However, with the high level of need and the cross-border nature of many of the challenges the world faces today, there is also a greater sense of responsibility and a tremendous opportunity to make a difference with even modest contributions. In view of these challenges, how can independent funders ensure that their international philanthropy is carried out in an accountable and responsible manner?
This brief provides practical advice and tips on setting strategy, ensuring an on-the-ground presence, and selecting partners for U.S.-based companies with foundations and/or giving programs that are either venturing into the international giving arena or seeking to enhance their current programs. The last section highlights the importance of maintaining legal compliance.