International philanthropy is heartily encouraged under US tax laws, which generously allow section 501(c)(3) nonprofits to financially support other organizations and projects operating entirely outside the United States. But foreign grantmaking rules for 501(c)(3) organizations differ depending on whether an organization is a public charity, a private foundation, or a sponsoring organization for donor advised funds (DAFs). Nonprofit leaders should therefore understand not only what rules apply, but also available compliance options.
Many U.S. nonprofits provide vitally needed humanitarian assistance internationally, particularly against the backdrop of pressing medical needs, refugee crises in war-affected countries, and extensive poverty. In connection with any foreign grantmaking, foreign payments, or other overseas operations, nonprofits need to be mindful of their obligations to comply with United States sanctions programs, which are often more extensive and applicable than many nonprofit organizations understand.
Want to help refugees, overseas missions, or international environmental efforts? As technology increasingly provides vivid windows into the lives of people around the world, donors and tax-exempt organizations are more aware than ever of foreign needs to be addressed.