Resources

Regulation of Nonprofit Organizations in the U.S. - An Overview

Date: 
November 21, 2017

Click here for a printable PDF of this Issue Brief. 

 

Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) in the United States are subject to a complex system of regulation and oversight that combines registration, reporting and monitoring at the federal, state and local levels. These regulatory regimes mostly revolve around raising, spending and accounting for funds, protecting the public from fraud, and encouraging charitable contributions. The First Amendment protections for freedom of association, assembly and expression guard against undue regulation of NPOs. In some cases, religious organizations are exempt from regulatory requirements to avoid entanglement of church and state.

 

Rule Allows Charities Listed as Terrorist Supporters to Access, Pay Lawyers in Most Cases

Date: 
June 18, 2017
Author: 

When a nonprofit organization (NPO) is listed by the U.S. government as a supporter of terrorism its assets within U.S. jurisdiction are generally frozen – or “blocked.”  In order to contest the listing NPOs may need to access funds to pay for legal representation. Since December 2010 the Department of Treasury’s sanctions regulations https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-12-07/html/2010-30520.htm  permit NPOs and other entities and individuals to obtain free legal services and in some cases, to arrange payment for lawyers without first obtaining a license.

The regulation covers legal representation for groups or people listed under EO 12947 (1995), listing designations for those engaged in violence that threatens the Middle East peace process, EO 13224 (2001), which lists Specially Designated Global Terrorists and Foreign Terrorist Organizations listed by the Secretary of State. The rule can be found in Volume 75 Page 75904 of the Federal Register and in 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations Parts 594, 595, and 597.

Mapping Listed Terrorist Groups and Humanitarian Crises

Date: 
August 1, 2016

The U.S. government maintains two lists containing entities (State's Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) & Treasury's Specially Designated Nationals (SDN)) it believes engage in terrorist activity. It is illegal to provide these groups with material support which is defined broadly in the law to include tangible goods like food or clothing, medical services, and training in conflict mediation. 

But the laws designed to starve the terrorists also make it nearly impossible for humanitarian actors to reach or offer assistance to civilians living in territory controlled by a blacklisted group. That means that in conflict zones or natural disaster areas where these groups are active, providing medical services or distributing non-medicinal necessities such as clean water, tents, blankets, food can be prohibited.

Impact on Women: Counterterrorism Laws and Policies Restricting Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Work

Date: 
August 19, 2015

A new C&SN Issue Brief examines the impact on women of counterterrorism laws and policies restricting peacebuilding and humanitarian work. It looks at the disproportionate effect that armed conflict has on women, shines a light on the role women are taking in these global hot spots to improve their lives and their communities, and explains how empowering legislation would allow U.S.

Summary: FATF's June 2015 Best Practices Paper

Date: 
July 9, 2015

After draft updates and significant input from the nonprofit organization (NPO) sector, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released its revised Best Practices Paper (BPP) in June 2015. The long-awaited revision incorporates almost all of the changes requested by NPOs with a new emphasis on taking a risk-based approach and avoiding a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme.

This latest BPP revision, which offers guidance on FATF Recommendation 8, on laws relating to NPOs, states at its outset that FATF recognizes “the vital importance of the NPO community in providing charitable services around the world, as well as  the difficulty of providing assistance to those in need, often in remote regions.” It also recognizes the efforts of NPOs to promote transparency in their work and “to prevent misuse of the sector by those wishing to support terrorist financing and terrorist organisations.”

The Financial Action Task Force: What Nonprofits Need to Know

Date: 
May 27, 2015

Barriers to Cross-Border Nonprofit Operations and
The Role of the Financial Action Task Force

 

 

Nonprofit organizations – humanitarian, peacebuilding, grantmaking, human rights and more – struggle against daunting obstacles in conflict zones where need is great and risk is high.  Increasingly their work is undermined by counterterror bureaucracies that impose unnecessary restrictions on operations. Some restrictive laws are deliberate attempts to suppress political opposition and others are excessive restrictions that do not take into account the ways in which the work of nonprofits could promote greater human security.

 

OFAC Licenses for Humanitarian Aid

Date: 
July 29, 2013

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Department of Treasury is tasked, in part, with ensuring that money from U.S. persons and entities does not fall into the hands of terrorist groups. An array of sanction laws have been enacted that make it a crime for money to go to certain countries (for example, Iran and Syria) and certain organizations (for example, Hamas and al-Qaeda). OFAC has the authority both to enforce these laws, by freezing the assets of any U.S. group or individual who violates them, and to provide exceptions to these laws through licenses. 

Somalia: The 2011 Famine and its Response

Date: 
July 10, 2013

July 2013

Somalia- Background

Before the first government to be internationally recognized in two decades came into power in early 2013, Somalia had been a country without an effective government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. Since then, two decades of conflict, severe weather, and the lack of basic services and infrastructure have contributed to major food shortages for almost half of the country’s ten million people.  Amidst the rampant insecurity and shortages, humanitarian efforts were further complicated by U.S. restrictions that prohibited aid delivery to the nearly two million civilians living in areas of the country controlled by al-Shabaab, a militant group that operates in southern Somalia, during the 2011 famine.

Need to Update Treasury’s Terrorist Listing and Delisting Procedures

Date: 
April 26, 2013

 

The U.S. terrorist listing process is designed to cut off funding to terrorists by freezing their funds and banning financial transactions with them. The President designates terrorist groups by Executive Order and authorizes the Treasury Department to list others that support them.   A lack of clear standards, transparency and oversight of the list  has raised serious concerns over the due process rights of those listed and the accuracy of the list itself.

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