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Charity and Security Network

10 Years of Advocating for Nonprofits - Our History

Our Mission:

The Charity & Security Network is a resource center for nonprofit organizations to promote and protect their ability to carry out effective programs that promote peace and human rights, aid civilians in areas of disaster and armed conflict and build democratic governance.

Who We Are:

Launched in late 2008, the Charity & Security Network is made up of a broad cross-section of nonprofits, including charities working on humanitarian aid, development, peacebuilding, human rights and civil liberties, along with grantmakers, donors and faith-based groups. 

Click here for our Advisory Board Members. 

Our Goals:

We work to increase the operational space for nonprofit programs that address the root causes of poverty and conflict.  Specifically we work to:

  • Enable peacebuilding organizations to engage in education, training and mediation activities with armed non-state groups in order to prevent, reduce or mitigate armed conflict.

  • Ensure unfettered civil society access to civilian populations impacted by conflict, disaster and poverty.

  • Protect civil society and human rights defenders from government infringement on the rights of free speech, assembly and association.

  • Build an enabling framework for counterterrorism related regulation of nonprofits. 


Barriers to Operating Charitable Programs and the Shrinking Space for Civil Society 

Current U.S. law is preventing charities and donors from engaging in critical, life-saving work in disaster and conflict areas.  Civilian populations, especially women and children, are losing the benefits that U.S. nonprofits could provide. This is because overbroad counterterrorism policies make it difficult or impossible for charities to operate in areas where a terrorist group is present. This isolates populations impacted by conflict and disaster, leaving an open field to terrorist groups that abuse aid for propaganda and recruitment purposes. 

  • Humanitarian aid is restricted. U.S. law makes it is a crime to conduct almost any transaction with a terrorist group, including those necessary for humanitarian groups to access civilians or peacebuilding groups to train terrorist groups on how to use nonviolent means to address their grievances. 

  • An over-reaching regulatory environment based on broad anti-terrorist financing rules, both in the U.S. and abroad, disrupts thework of legitimate civil society groups. Repressive governments have abused these rules to suppress dissent and limit civil society.


What We Can Do:

The Charity & Security Network provides logistical, legal and technical support for stakeholders from across the nonprofit sector to convene and engage in dialog, analysis and joint efforts that can bring about positive change. It enables its members to pool resources and provide mutual support. Our work includes: 

  • Research and Education: We act as a hub for information sharing among a wide group of civil society professionals in the U.S. and internationally. The project hosts events, monitors and reports on new developments, produces informational publications and publishes research reports documenting the problem and proposing solutions.

  • Coalition Building and Collaboration: We reach out to a range of civil society groups to get input and provide opportunities for participation and collaboration through working groups, email lists, briefings and more. 

  • Engage in Dialog with Policymakers: The Network builds direct engagement with executive branch agencies, Congress and international bodies to educate them on the barriers faced by civil society and the need to protect their work and construct a better regulatory framework.  

  • Advocacy. We directly engage with policymakers in the U.S. and abroad to offer pragmatic policy alternatives. 

Privacy Policy

The Charity & Security Network is a project of NEO Philanthropy, Inc. We adhere to its Privacy and Accessibility Policy for use of this website. 

CSN's Advisory Board:

Liz Hume, Acting CEO

Laura Strawmeyer, Policy & Advocacy Manager
Alliance for Peacebuilding

Lindsay Hamsik, Senior Manager, Humanitarian Policy

Princess Bazley-Bathea, Director, Together Project

David Cole, Legal Director

Dawn Sikorski, Corporate Counsel
Islamic Relief USA

Mike Merryman-Lotze, Middle East Program Director

American Friends Service Committee

Dalell Mohmed, Executive Director*
Matthew Chrastek, Coordinator
American Relief Coalition for Syria
Kari Reid, Director, Policy and Advocacy
Mercy Corps
Sue Udry, Executive Director*
Defending Rights and Dissent
Brenda Abdelall, Attorney
Bridge Strategies, LLC
Lara Kalwinski, General Counsel
Zakat Foundation of America
Joel Charny, Director
Norwegian Refugee Council USA
Kevin van Bronkhurst, National Standards Associate 
Council on Foundations
Derek Brown, Executive Director
Peace Appeal Foundation
Theo Sitther, Legislative Secretary for Peacebuilding Policy
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Arjun Sethi, Adjunct Professor of Law
Naz Modirzadeh, Director and
Jessica Burniske, Law and Policy Associate
Program on International Law and Armed Conflict
Harvard Law School

Prof. Sue Smock, Retired
Wayne State University
Wendell Belew


 * Executive Committee Member
Membership is open to civil society organizations and their staff, leaders and volunteers.