How NGOsource Helps Community Foundations Achieve Their Mission

Photo: The Kenya Community Development Foundation supports the Malaa community to provide fresh, accessible water sources. 

NGOsource’s equivalency determination (ED) repository helps community foundations serve their stakeholders by making international grantmaking more efficient. Not only do we work with U.S.-based community foundations as our grantmaker members, but also international community foundations who have had EDs requested by our members. We hope to continue to increase the number of community foundations we work with, both as members and ED recipients.

NGOsource for U.S.-based community foundations

Community foundations like The Boston Foundation, Columbus Foundation, Greater Cedar Rapids Foundation, The Miami Foundation, and The Pittsburgh Foundation are working with NGOsource to offer direct international grantmaking to their donors.

Increasingly, community foundations are hearing from donors that they want to make grants directly to NGOs outside the United States. In the past, few community foundations offered their donors an option to recommend grants to NGOs that are not based in the U.S. The cost of due diligence to determine if non-U.S. organizations were eligible for grants discouraged community foundations and their donors. As a result, most donors were limited to 501(c)(3) organizations when giving from their donor-advised accounts.

Many community foundations are now using NGOsource to drastically reduce the cost and complexity of international grantmaking. By becoming a member of NGOsource, community foundations gain access to our unique repository of equivalency determinations (ED) for non-U.S. NGOs. So they are able to offer their donors a cost-effective way to make direct international grants that have the tax advantages of giving to a U.S. public charity.

Community foundations that join NGOsource minimize the cost and time required to vet NGOs as equivalent to U.S. public charities. When an NGO is already in our ED repository, members can get these EDs issued in one day for only $250. This cost-effective approach enables more community foundations to offer direct international grantmaking services for the first time, and for smaller grants than were possible before. As a result, more U.S.-based donors are now using community foundations to give internationally and get the tax benefits of giving to a 501(c)(3) public charity.

NGOsource for community foundations around the world

NGOsource supports community foundations outside the U.S. in a very different way. NGOsource has certified several community foundations around the world as equivalent to U.S. 501(c)(3) public charities, including The Community Foundation for Ireland and Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF). These EDs were requested by NGOsource member grantmakers providing funding to these community foundations.

A community foundation that has been through the ED process with NGOsource once gains an advantage from already having an ED in our repository because multiple grantmakers can affordably request an ED from us for the same community foundation using the current information in our repository. This saves time and expense for both the grantmaker and community foundation, and avoids the duplication of efforts when multiple grantmakers need an ED for the same organization.

Community Foundation for Ireland is an excellent example. In 2015, The Community Foundation for Ireland received its first equivalency determination from NGOsource on behalf of a family donor who wished to make grants in the Southwest of Ireland. Shortly after, when The Community Foundation for Ireland was approached by Medtronic and Medtronic Foundation staff to set up a fund in Ireland, the equivalency determination was processed by NGOsource at an accelerated rate given the recent approval for the family donor. The efficiency of this process was a key factor in the Medtronic Healthy Communities Fund being launched within 10 weeks of the initial discussions with The Community Foundation for Ireland. Read more about this partnership here.

As NGOsource grows, we hope to add more community foundations’ information to our ED repository. In addition to the EDs for community foundations that are requested by NGOsource grantmaker members, we can envision a more proactive approach to selecting community foundations based outside the U.S. to be included in the repository. Because organizations like The Community Foundation for Ireland support a large number of social impact initiatives in their regions, there would be a broad reaching benefit to having them certified by NGOsource. We would love to hear more from community foundations that are interested in pursuing this possibility.

How Do We Get Started?

Ken Tsunoda, NGOsource general manager, can answer any questions you may have about NGOsource’s services for community foundations. Reach out to him anytime at ktsunoda [at] techsoupglobal [dot] org or call him directly at +1 415-633-9328.