Can our international NGO raise funds in the U.S.?
Candid does not give grants/donations, suggest specific funders, or approach them on your behalf. More about Candid’s mission. Please refer to the tips and websites in this article.
The simple answer is "yes." Or better, "yes, but...."
To be honest, most U.S. foundations and corporations give grants to U.S.-based organizations - some that work overseas.
A smaller number of grantmakers will give directly to international charities or NGOs. But these funders must conduct an "equivalency determination" to show the U.S. government that the NGO is the equivalent of a U.S. public charity. This review process can be done by the foundation or the lawyer of the nonprofit applying for the grant.
Fiscal sponsorship is the easiest way for an NGO to receive grants from U.S. foundations. If your NGO has a long-term, close working relationship with a large nonprofit in a developed nation, you should start a discussion about fiscal sponsorship -- partnering with them so you can receive grants from U.S. organizations. It's not easy for a foreign nonprofit to get a fiscal sponsor, but it is a possibility for some NGOs that have been in operation for years and can prove they have a history of success.
Finally, an NGO can itself apply to the U.S. government for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, or it can establish a "Friends of" organization, which also must be certified 501(c)(3). A private foundation will prefer to give to a 501(c)(3) or a "Friends of" organization so it doesn't have to conduct an equivalency determination. Note that "Friends of" charities are required by U.S. law to operate independently of the foreign organizations they support, and cannot be simply a "money conduit" to a foreign organization.
Examples include organizations such as American Friends of the Louvre, Friends of Foundation de France and hundreds of other organizations that do not have "Friends of..." names, such as Doctors Without Borders or Médecins Sans Frontières.
When you decide how you will raise funds in the U.S., you can learn how to find U.S. grantmakers with our article, How do I find grants for my nonprofit?
If your NGO plans to ask individual donors in the U.S. for money, be aware that most states require organizations to register before they ask for money there. Many U.S. donors expect a tax deduction for their contributions. They can only claim that deduction if your NGO has 501(c)(3) status, fiscal sponsorship or a "Friends of" group.
Learn about fiscal sponsorship with our Knowledge Base Article, What is fiscal sponsorship? How do I find a fiscal sponsor?
Learn about obtaining your own 501(c)(3) status with our Knowledge Base Article, How do I start a nonprofit organization?
Learn about finding funders with the blog, "Expand Your International Organization’s Presence to Attract U.S Funders."
Please note, whichever way you choose, please follow the guidelines we outline in Introduction to Finding Grants -- look for funders who are interested in your activities and/or your country, as demonstrated by who they've given to previously and their stated guidelines.
See staff-recommended resources below for more information about funding for international NGOs.
Just 12% of international grant dollars from U.S. foundations went directly to organizations based in the country where programs were implemented. The remaining 88% was channeled through organizations based elsewhere.
Watch "How Do US Foundations Support Global Programs and Partners? New Data and Trends" to learn more.
Watch Legal Structures for Raising Funds in the U.S to learn what your international NGOs needs to know.
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Explore resources curated by our staff for this topic:
Basic Fund-Raising for Small NGOs/Civil Society In the Developing World
Some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) to online forums for community-based organizations (CBOs) in developing countries, whatever the subject, are regarding funding, particularly grants.
Centro Mexicano para la Filantropía A.C.
Philanthropy within Mexico. Information on philanthropy within Mexico.
China Foundation Center
China Foundation Center website. Information on foundations in China.
Council on Foundations
Provides information and resources for U.S. foundations and grantmakers wishing to make grants abroad.
Council on Foundations
How a Private Foundation Can Use "Friends of" Organizations
Written for U.S. grantmakers wanting to give overseas. Concludes that "a grant to a well-run "Friends of" organization can be an efficient means to fund an overseas project without having to conduct expenditure responsibility or equivalency determination.
Imagine Canada is a national organization dedicated to advancing the role and interests of the charitable sector for the benefit of Canadian communities. Its website includes a subscription-based searchable database of thousands of Canadian foundations and grants.
International Grants & Funders
Offers links to grantmakers with international funding interests, including Australia & UK Grants, and Canada foundations and grants.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent government agency that provides economic development and humanitarian assistance to advance U.S. economic and political interests overseas.
Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS)
The Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) seeks to bring together grantmakers and support organizations serving philanthropy from around the world to create a forum in which to discuss the variety of common issues related to their support of grantmakers worldwide. It is divided up into two groups: Wings-CF (community foundation) and Wings-CI (coporate initative). The Web site includes a directory of WINGS network organizations, case studies of organizations supporting community foundations, a directory of associations serving grantmakers, a newsletter, a calendar of events, and annotated links to related web sites.