Financial Access Overview

In recent years, access to financial services has become increasingly difficult for civil society organizations that must conduct international financial transactions in order to operate overseas where their work is needed most. Financial institutions may delay, or refuse to make, transfers between organizations. Sometimes, nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are turned away as customers or have their accounts closed.

Counterterror Rules Impact Gender Equality

Although they're not alone in shouldering the weight of the counter-terror financing legal environment, "the specific profile of women's rights organizing and organizations has meant that they experience these rules in a number of adverse and often gender-specific ways," according to a new report from Women Peacemakers Program and the International Human Rights Clinic at Duke University Law School, Tightening the Purse Strings: What Countering Terrorism Financing Costs Gender Equality and Security.

While 87% of the report's survey respondents said their work involved countering terrorism and/or violent extremism, 90% said that counterterrorism measures had an adverse impact on their work, and the report notes that counter-terror financing regimes have exacerbated this. Ultimately, these measures have dictated how, where and sometimes if women's rights organizations can undertake their core work. 

Read the full report here

Report: Uncharitable Behavior and Banks That Drop Nonprofit Customers

January 14, 2015

A new study by UK financial expert Tom Keatinge examines the problems UK charities are experiencing with access to financial services for their international operations. U.S. charities face the same kinds of barriers, and a similar study is needed on the problems they face. The Press Release from Demos, which published the study, said the report:

- Reveals challenges NGOs face in securing and transferring funds due to the counter-terrorism regulation fears of banks

- Calls on banks, charities, and government bodies to improve dialogue on resulting financial restrictions and impact on charitable activity

- Critical aid struggling to reach conflict zones such as Syria

The full text of the study can be found here.

Two-Thirds of U.S. Nonprofits Have Financial Access Difficulties

February 1, 2017

View a PDF of this press release


Washington, February 7, 2017 –Two-thirds of U.S.-based nonprofit organizations (NPOs) working abroad are facing problems accessing financial services, according to a comprehensive report released today by the Charity & Security Network. 

The report, Financial Access for U.S. Nonprofits, is based on the first-ever empirical study of the global phenomenon known as “derisking,” as it relates to U.S.-based NPOs. Derisking refers to financial institutions terminating or restricting business relationships to avoid rather than manage risk. The report also reflects information from numerous focus group sessions and interviews with stakeholders over the last year. It outlines and analyzes the scope, frequency, and prevalence of various financial access problems, including delayed wire transfers, account refusals and closures, and unusual additional documentation requests. The report also provides recommendations to address these challenges. Author Sue E. Eckert of the Center for New American Security noted, “At a time of unprecedented need in regions of conflict, humanitarian crises, and natural disaster, American charities’ efforts to save lives and prevent the further erosion of democracy and human rights are being stymied unnecessarily. The data are clear: there is a serious and systemic problem that must be addressed.”

Webcast Available

 Financial Access
 for Nonprofits


Did you miss our February 7 report launch at CSIS? You can now view the webcast of both the panel discussion and the Q&A.
Speakers included:

Sue Eckert, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security; and Adjunct Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve Law School

Emile van der does de Willebois, Global Lead, Financial Market Integrity & Asset Recovery, World Bank Group

Michael Pisa, Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development  

Scott Paul, Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisory, Oxfam America

Moderated by:

Shannon N. Green. Senior Fellow and Director, Human Rights Initiative, CSIS

Webcast available here


Two-Thirds of U.S. Nonprofits Have Financial Access Difficulties, New C&SN Report Finds

The scope and prevalence  of challenges that U.S.-based nonprofits face in accessing financial services are far more vast than previously understood, according to a comprehensive new report by the Charity & Security Netowrk, Financial Access for U.S. Nonprofits.

Two-thirds of U.S.-based nonprofits working abroad are facing problems accessing financial services, the report finds. These include delays in wire transfers, account closures and account refusals, requests for unusual additional documentation, and inccreased fees. 

The report is based on the first-ever empirical study of the global phenomenon known as "derisking," as it relates to U.S.-based NPOs. The report also reflects information from a number of focus group sessions and interviews with stakeholders over the last year. 

Read more

FATF Issues Guidance on Correspondent Banking Services

October 21, 2016

In a guidance document issued October 21, 2016, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) advises financial institutions that may terminate or restrict business relationships with entire countries or classes of customer in order to avoid, rather than manage, risks in line with the FATF’s risk-based approach (RBA), a practice known as de-risking. Although the guidance is focused on correspondent banking and does not address the financial access plight of nonprofit organizations (NPOs), it does have implications for NPOs' ability to access banking services.