Determining an NGO's Legal Name

Grantmaker members and NGOs may wonder why the name of an NGO on its Equivalency Determination (ED) Certificate often differs from the name that was initially submitted for review. The reason is that an ED is a legal opinion, which must reflect the exact legal name of the entity as evidenced on its legal formation or registration documents.

Matching the name of the entity to its formal incorporation or registration document allows grantmakers to ensure that the entity named in the ED Certificate is the same legal entity that they are funding. This is especially important since banks also often rely on the legal formation or registration document when they open an account for an entity. The practice ensures that all documentation is consistent.

What about non-English names?

When the name is in the Latin (or Roman) alphabet, such as French, Portuguese, Spanish, or German, NGOsource replicates the name that is shown on its submitted formation or registration documents. For NGO names in another alphabet or script, such as Hebrew, Cyrillic, Arabic, or Chinese, NGOsource uses either the phonetic spelling of the name in English or the English translation of the name. The version chosen depends on which one appears on the translated formation or registration documents.

What is a dba?

In the U.S., a name that is commonly used by an organization instead of its legal name is known as a "fictitious business name" or a "dba" (doing business as). For example, an organization named "The Association for Global Humanitarian Aid" might commonly use the name "Global Aid" on its website and other outward-facing materials. While the ED Certificate displays the full legal name, the accompanying legal analysis specifies any former names or dba names that the organization has used or continues to use.

What if the NGO disagrees with the name indicated on the certificate?

Determining an organization's correct legal name is not always straightforward. Because translations and transcriptions can be inaccurate or incomplete, we are happy to review and update an organization's legal name if the NGO is able to provide us with corrected, updated, or alternate documentation to substantiate its true legal name.


This article is for general informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice as to any particular set of facts. Please seek legal counsel as you deem necessary.