Centralized data on non-U.S. grantees urged

Foundations and overseas nonprofits agree a centralized source of information on non-U.S. charities would simplify international grantmaking, but they question the feasibility of such an undertaking, a new study says.

As international giving by U.S. funders increases, due diligence required by grantmakers is becoming more costly, totaling almost $3 million in 2005 for the 79 foundations surveyed in joint effort by the Council on Foundations, Independent Sector, the Foundation Center and Guidestar.

Almost two in three overseas nonprofits surveyed have difficulty complying with information requests from U.S. funders, and more than half say they have trouble understanding and complying with U.S. regulations.

And more than half the foundations surveyed rarely or never verify critical information supplied by international grantseekers.

Nine in 10 overseas nonprofits say a centralized repository of information would provide a significant benefit, the study says, and almost as many U.S. funders agree.

However, grantmakers and service providers say the proposal faces challenges, including gaining IRS support, enforcing standards, and collecting and maintaining timely data.

The study estimates startup costs for such an effort would range from $100,000 to $900,000, with ongoing costs of $200,000 to $400,000 a year.

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