Global Philanthropy Update - June 2022

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 - 12:15 am
Brian Kastner

It has been an eventful year for new laws targeting nonprofits and philanthropy across the world. We know you have many questions and concerns about the rapidly changing state of global giving; join us at a Legal Office Hours event for international grantmakers on June 16 (see the News and Resources section below for more information). Until then, here's an update on some of the efforts we’re tracking:

In India, the Supreme Court recently heard a case that challenged the 2020 amendments to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), and subsequently ruled in the government’s favor upholding the amendments. Shortly after, the government conducted raids on 40+ NGOs and arrested officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (the department responsible for overseeing foreign funding approvals), under the charges of conducting an alleged bribery scheme to provide FCRA licenses.

In the UK, the government is debating its own foreign agents scheme that fortunately did not make it into the recent national security bill. Similar to the U.S.’s own Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the UK government is considering legislation that would primarily target lobbyists working on behalf of foreign governments but could capture foundations and charities under its umbrella as well.

In Nicaragua, we previously flagged that the government passed a new foreign agent law and joined others in raising alarm about the potential use of this law to stifle dissent and target nonprofits. The Nicaraguan government recently shut down 50 nonprofits, claiming the organizations did not submit the required financial disclosures under the foreign agent law.

In Hong Kong, a court recently ruled that prosecutors could label organizers of the city’s annual Tiananmen vigil as foreign agents, but are not required to disclose on whose behalf the organizers were working, prompting concerns among nonprofits and activists that the term “foreign agent” can now be used as a blanket label on any individual or organization without evidence.

In Poland, the government continues to consider its own foreign agent law that would target nonprofits receiving foreign funding, though recent drafts have been less severe than the original draft. On Monday, our own Natalie Ross spoke with Polish NGOs and foundations about the similarities to the U.S. Foreign Agent Registration Act.

In Thailand, protests continue in response to the country’s Draft Act on the Operations of Not-for-Profit Organizations, which would create its own foreign funding reporting framework, among other things. Recently, 65 organizations sent an open letter to President Biden encouraging him to leverage diplomatic channels to advocate on behalf of opponents of the legislation.

In China, foreign NGOs with offices in the country continue to receive notices about their use of Chinese data. Foundations, or their partners, who have representative offices in China need to be aware of the rules regarding data exports, i.e., sending or processing data from China to another country (such as the foundation’s headquarters in the U.S.).

In better news, the High Court in Uganda recently overturned the suspension of a rights group, citing irregularities with how the suspension was enacted, though activists note the operating environment is still extremely hostile to advocacy groups.

As you can see, the closing of civic space continues and governments across the world continue to replicate harmful laws based on “what works” in other countries. That is why the Council continues to advocate for the revision of the Foreign Agent Registration Act in the US and continues to work with you and other partners on improving the global regulatory environment for philanthropy.

With gratitude,

Brian Kastner
Director, Engagement

News and Resources

Legal office hours for global grantmakers

On June 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET, Council attorneys Ben McDearmon and Remy Barnwell will host Legal Office Hours for Global Grantmakers as part of Member Week 2022 programming. This members-only Q&A discussion will address your legal questions, trends in global philanthropy, and the latest concerns around foundation best practices. Members may submit questions to at any time.

Summit of the americas

Happening this week, the Summit for the Americas is back in the US for the first time since the 1990s. There is a civil society component of the event, and we’ll be sure to share takeaways from the Summit in the next newsletter.

Ethics in international grantmaking

By their very nature and purpose, foundations are highly privileged institutions and powerful societal leaders. With that privilege comes the responsibility to use values of the highest levels and employ explicit ethical dimensions. On June 14, join Philanthropy New York and Network of Engaged International Donors for an interactive yet structured conversation with scholar, author, and practitioner Patricia L. Rosenfield to discuss the principles and practices of ethical global grantmaking.

Philea Conference and Report

Philea, a new European philanthropy association created by a merger between the European Foundation Centre and DAFNE, recently hosted its conference in Barcelona. In addition, they launched a #WhenWeUnite campaign and a report on how foundation practices have changed in Europe since the pandemic.

2022 Courage Award Winner Announcement

On June 16th, join Global Fund for Children and the philanthropic community to celebrate the winners of the fourth annual Juliette Gimon Courage Awards. The 2022 Courage Awards recognize three community-based organizations challenging systems that exclude children and youth from education: IRODA in Tajikistan, Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES) in Sierra Leone, and Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) in Afghanistan.


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