Know Your Rights

In the current political environment, it is essential that nonprofit organizations know their rights and are prepared to act if the government lists the organization as a terrorist group, freezes its assets or searches its offices, computers or files. 

The Know Your Rights project of the Charity & Security Network provides information, resources and training to inform nonprofits on steps they can take to protect themselves and be prepared in the event that the government moves to designate their orgnization, its director or employees; seize their assets, arrest their directors or employees, or audit their operations. The project educates organizations on permissible activities and provides up-to-date information on the rights to protest and advocacy under federal and state law. 

Click on one of the sub-categories below for more information:









Webinar - Congressional Investigations: Could Your Nonprofit Organization Be Next?

Event Date: 
November 13, 2018

Earlier this year, a House of Representatives Committee sent letters to a handful of nonprofits, accusing them of acting as foreign agents. In the wake of this attempt to stifle constitutionally protected speech, nonprofits are wondering what powers Congress has to investigate organizations, what nonprofits can do in the event that they become the subject of one, and how these attacks can be neutralized. 

View the Recording

View the Webinar Slides

Webinar - Are My Peacebuilding Activities Permissible?

Event Date: 
October 17, 2017
The 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project had a chilling effect on peacebuilders working abroad and left practitioners worrying that their work might run afoul of US counterterrorism law. Seven years later, many of those same questions persist, and the current administration presents additional uncertainties. No new guidance has been issued since the landmark Supreme Court decision, but there are guideposts.
Hear from two dynamic speakers who will outline the legal landscape and detail the current state of practice for those in the field. Participate in a Q&A geared to what matters to you now. 
Tuesday, October 17, 2018
* George Foote, a lawyer with Dorsey, serves as outside general counsel to the U.S. Institute of Peace and to PeaceTech Lab, Inc. He will share his insight on how to navigate these uncertain waters. 
* Kimberly Brody Hart, senior manager of global affairs and partnerships at Search for Common Ground, will discuss the practical implications from the perspective of a peacebuilder. 
See more in our Know Your Rights series. 

View the recording

InterAction's New Disinformation Toolkit

A new toolkit from InterAction takes nonprofits through the steps to protect themselves from disinformation online. The Disinformation Toolkit provides a list of terms, a discussion of disinformation's effect on civil society and case studies. The toolkit walks organizations through the steps necessary to be prepared for disinformation, including identifying risk, developing a risk mitigation plan, including a chart on the advantages and disadvantages of countering this type of information, and a discussion of long-term strategies. 

Webinar - Government Investigations: How to Protect Your Organization

Event Date: 
June 16, 2017

Nonprofits can be negatively impacted by government investigations, whether they are the target or not. Law enforcement may show up at the office demanding to interview staff and take documents or computer records. Donors, volunteers, board members and staff may be subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury or questioned at their homes. 

In the current political climate, nonprofits need to know their rights, how to be prepared in case of a visit from law enforcement, and how to respond if it does. This webinar will explain your rights and suggest strategies to defend your organization. 

Recording now available

Speaker: Timothy O'Toole, Miller & Chevalier 
Timothy P. O'Toole counsels and defends clients in white collar criminal matters, conducts internal corporate investigations, and represents potential witnesses and targets in government investigations. Although Mr. O'Toole has substantial experience in all areas of white collar practice, his main focus is on economic sanctions and export controls.

See more in our Know Your Rights series

50 Groups Sign Statement Supporting Nonprofit Organizations

October, 2017

The undersigned organizations come together in recognition of U.S. nonprofit organizations and their vital role in supporting communities and protecting democracy.  These groups are dedicated to the public welfare, addressing everything from poverty to peacebuilding. They embody the Constitutional rights of association, assembly and free expression by giving people a vehicle for civic participation, charitable endeavors and exercise of religious faith. 

The charitable activities of nonprofits hold transformative power at home and abroad, especially in conflict zones. They reflect our national values of compassion, equality and fairness. In these troubled times, when so many places in the world are mired in conflict, the number of refugees is higher than any time since World War II, and factionalism and divisiveness dominate public discourse, a strong and active nonprofit sector is more important than ever.  But unnecessary restrictions on nonprofits can limit their ability to carry out their good works.

We call on the U.S. government to protect and respect the work of nonprofit organizations; to recognize that many engage in activities that contribute to the security of individuals and institutions across the globe; and to recognize that many have an ability to carry out programs that promote peace and human rights, alleviate poverty, aid civilians in areas of disaster and armed conflict, and build democratic governance. 

Accordingly, the following principles should guide and support government policy and action impacting civil society:

• Government rules and regulations should encourage nonprofit activities and not unduly disrupt or discourage them.

• Any restrictions on nonprofits’ activities should be based on a risk-based approach that is proportionate and consistent with Constitutional principles.

• The ability of nonprofits to protect and aid civilians affected by armed conflict should be respected, consistent with international humanitarian law.

• Any nonprofit subject to government enforcement action should have a meaningful opportunity to defend itself. 

• All assets of nonprofit organizations should be protected and used only to support a legitimate charitable purpose.

Nonprofit organizations are essential to a Democratic society, and thus should have the support of the U.S. government.

Webinar: Steps My Organization Can Take to Protect Itself

Event Date: 
April 5, 2017

Recording now available

First in a series on Know Your Rights, this one-hour webinar focused on governance and program operations.


* Shari Crittendon, Senior Corporate Counsel at the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America, former General Counsel of the United Negro College Fund, will speak on governance and compliance issues. 

* Julien Schopp, Director of Humanitarian Practice at InterAction, member of SPHERE board and former Senior Policy Officer for the International Council of Voluntary Agencies, will speak on managing humanitarian operations. 

View the webinar recording

Webinar: IRS Audits of Nonprofits - How to Avoid or Prepare

Event Date: 
May 8, 2017

The Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organizations Division has identified organizations that do international work as a “Strategic Issue Area” for its FY 2017 enforcement program.  Learn what this could mean for your organization, and how to be prepared if your organization is selected for audit.

Recording now available

*Lara Kalwinski, Senior Counsel, Compliance and Policy and Executive Director National Standards at the Council on Foundations, on the 2017 IRS enforcement workplan.

*Marc Owens, Partner. Loeb & Loeb LLP and former Director of the Exempt Organizations Division at the IRS, on how the IRS audit process works.

*Alex Reid, Partner, Morgan Lewis, on how to prepare for and survive an IRS audit.