Thursday, September 22, 2022
Today's Religious News Service presents an interesting analysis of the new British monarch's task of making the country's rapidly expanding numbers of nonbelievers feel included. The analysis begins by noting that the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II's funeral was not entirely representative of Britain’s increasingly secular population. The funeral service was held in Westminster Abbey. According to RNS, the "medieval abbey, the sublime music and military processions were all a visual and aural feast, but the event was at its heart a Christian ceremony, with the coffin placed in front of the altar and presided over by robed clergymen."
With this in mind, RNS continues, the Queen's funeral "was not entirely representative of Britain’s increasingly secular population. Even its believers are less likely to be Christian than at the start of Elizabeth’s reign, with 2.7 million Muslims, 800,000 Hindus and a half-million Sikhs, among many other faiths. Christians, who once consisted mostly of various Protestants — chiefly members of the Church of England, the Church of Scotland and the Church in Wales — and Roman Catholics, have been joined by a growing Pentecostal movement and other evangelical churches, according to the BBC."
In Britain, though, the Church of England remains the official, established church, with the monarch as its Supreme Governor, and since Elizabeth’s death on Sept. 8, we have seen it in the ascendant. Yet, there are also signs that the late monarch, now-King Charles III and the Church of England have recognized that the time has come to adjust.
RNS continues its analysis:
In a landmark speech in 2012 at Lambeth Palace, the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the queen said of the Church of England that “Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”
She credited the established church with having done so already. “Gently and assuredly, the Church of England has created an environment for other faith communities and indeed people of no faith to live freely,” she said.
The new king has endorsed those words as recently as Sept. 9, the night after his mother died, in his first televised address to the British nation as its king. “The role and the duties of Monarchy also remain,” he said, “as does the Sovereign’s particular relationship and responsibility towards the Church of England — the Church in which my own faith is so deeply rooted.”
But he continued, ”In the course of the last 70 years we have seen our society become one of many cultures and many faiths.”
Nearly 30 years ago, as prince of Wales, Charles articulated concern about other faiths and Christian denominations in modern Britain not feeling included, and controversially suggested that when he became king he should be called Defender of Faiths — plural— rather than the title Defender of the Faith bestowed on Henry VIII by the pope in 1521 and used by England’s monarchs since.
Anglicans reacted harshly to Charles’ gambit, fearing he would not be fully wedded to assuming his role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England when the time came. Even after he rescinded his statement in 2014, the moment haunted Charles. His statement on Sept. 9 came in part to reassure doubters, who then heard him proclaimed king and Defender of the Faith the next day before the Accession Council, who proclaimed him the new monarch.
Then, bit by bit, we saw more evidence of how the king and his advisers, as well as the late queen, through her funeral plans, tried to embrace other traditions.
The Sept. 12 service of thanksgiving for the queen’s life was held at Edinburgh’s St Giles Cathedral, the main church of the Church of Scotland. Representatives of other faiths were in attendance, and the Gospel was read by Mark Strange, primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the other main Protestant church in Scotland besides the Church of Scotland.
More surprising, a passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans was read by Leo Cushley, the Catholic archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and included lines often interpreted as encouraging ecumenical dialogue: “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
When Charles then paid a visit to Northern Ireland, more efforts were made to include the Catholic population, for whom the monarchy has long been a sensitive issue. At St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast — where the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, and Taoiseach (as Ireland calls its prime minister) Micheál Martin were in attendance — Eamon Martin, the Catholic archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, offered a prayer; others were said by Methodist and Presbyterian church leaders. At a service during Charles’ stop in Wales, prayers were said by Muslim and Jewish representatives as well as representatives of several Christian denominations.
But a reception at Buckingham Palace for 30 faith leaders on Friday (Sept. 16) — before the new king met any world leaders in London for the funeral, and even before he took part in a vigil with his siblings at the lying-in-state of his mother — spoke volumes about the importance Charles assigns religion in Britain.
Charles welcomed not only the Catholic archbishop of Westminster but Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and Imam Asim Yusuf, telling them that Britain’s sovereign has an “additional” duty — presumably in addition to being Supreme Governor of the Church of England — to protect “the space for faith itself” in Britain. This duty, he said, is “less formally recognized but to be no less diligently discharged.”
He added: “It is the duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals. This diversity is not just enshrined in the laws of our country, it is enjoined by my own faith.”
That Charles’ words were backed up by his mother was evident in the state funeral Monday. The specialness of the Church of England and of multifaith, diverse Britain was acknowledged as a procession of religious representatives entered Westminster Abbey in advance of the main funeral party: Jews, Baha’is, Jains, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus, as well as Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis; Pope Francis was represented by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states.
Reading prayers during the service were the Rev. Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Shermara Fletcher, principal officer for Pentecostal and charismatic relations for Churches Together in England; the Rev. Helen Cameron, moderator of the Free Churches; and Roman Catholic Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
The questions that remain are: "What happens now?" "What shall we see at Charles's coronation?" "Will it be all-inclusive affair, or will it be limited to clergy of the Church of England?" Of great importance also, is whether King Charles III, whose titles include "Defender of the Faith," be a defender of both believers and nonbelievers. After all, in the last British census (2011), a quarter of the population said they had no religion.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Thursday, July 7, 2022
The Associated Press reports that in late June the Nicaraguan government closed an additional 101 nonprofit organizations with the approval of the country's congress, bringing the total shut down over the past four years to over 750. The claimed basis for the most recent closures is an alleged failure to comply with a 2020 "foreign agent" registration law. This recent group includes the local branch of Missionaries of Charity, an organization established by Mother Teresa. Hat tip: Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Separately, Give2Asia released a report on Unlocking Cross-Border Philanthropy in Asia, with contributions from the Asia Philanthropy Circle and the King Baudouin Foundation, and support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here is a description of the report:
This study focuses on a very specific idea that more private funders in Asia are committed to solving some of the most pressing issues facing the region and looking beyond their own countries and territories to make meaningful change. This idea is at the heart of a growing discussion around whether and how regional philanthropy within Asia will develop as wealth increases.
Prior to this study, the authors had an idea of the landscape of cross-border giving based on prior research, informal conversations, and our accumulative grantmaking experiences in several markets. This study aims to assess these assumptions by exploring the nuanced perspectives of a diverse group of philanthropic stakeholders and their respective markets. It will also expand our existing knowledge to more potential markets in the region.
Broadly, the study aims to answer two key questions
Is there appetite and need for infrastructure that supports cross-border giving within Asia?
If so, what locations, institutions, and services might be involved to build such infrastructure?
Hat tip: Philanthropy News Digest.
Monday, June 20, 2022
Earlier this month, the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (“IILWG”) and the Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship at NYU Law hosted a conference entitled “Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing in the U.S. and Beyond” at NYU. The IILWG is a group of lawyers and legal/compliance professionals who work or desire to work in the fields of impact investing and social enterprise. It is comprised of a impact investors, social enterprises, law firms, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and academic institutions. The Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship was formed in May 2017 by two NYU School of Law alumni. Its mission is to “enhance the community of lawyers and legal institutions engaged in social entrepreneurship and impact investing and to accelerate their effective participation in these fields.”
The 2022 conference focused on the following themes: (1) Inclusive Capitalism and Going the Last Mile; (2) Blending Finance to Advance Climate Adaptation and Resilience; (3) Elevating Beneficiaries: Inclusive Design in Impact Instruments; (4) Climate Regulation and the Long and Winding Road; (5) Legal Implications of Minority Wealth Equity Strategies; and (6) Prepare for Impact: Training Lawyers for ESG, Impact Investing, and Social Enterprise Practices. The complete Program Agenda may be found here. The themed panel discussion on minority wealth equity seems particularly relevant in light of recent tragedies involving racially charged violence, and it focused on supporting minority-owned businesses in the United States and abroad. My former Corporations professor, Professor John Coates, delivered a keynote on the proposed SEC climate regulation in confronting a global concern. The agenda also included, inter alia, an in-progress case study on MicroBuild, a global impact investing fund with a goal of providing adequate housing for the poor. The topics from the conference lend credence to the notion that impact investing is an effective vehicle for resolving global challenges in a new era of much needed change.
Hoffman Fuller Associate Professor of Tax law
Tulane Law School
Friday, May 27, 2022
Earlier this week, IFA Magazine published an article entitled “Interest in Impact Investing at All-Time High Worldwide” in which it referenced a global study. In the United States, the percentage of individuals who find impact investing appealing has jumped from 51% to 61% since 2020. Perhaps most interestingly, millennials have registered the largest interest in impact investing across numerous countries: 67% in the UK, 66% in the U.S., and 68% in Australia. What makes this relevant is that many commentators have noted there will be a large scale shift of wealth to millennials by baby boomers in the coming years. This begs the question whether millennials will choose to invest in benefit corporations and forego traditional charitable giving avenues.
The study also noted that the environment was the largest concern internationally. For example, 34% of those in the UK, 30% in Australia, and 34% in Germany were concerned primarily about climate change. Americans were chiefly concerned with health care. The top concern for 25% of U.S. individuals surveyed were health, including disease prevention and cures. Finally, the study also noted the growing concern about greenwashing in the U.K. Greenwashing is the practice of using marketing spin to deceive the public about how environmentally friendly a company’s products, aims, and policies are. It will be interesting to see what U.K. policies are put into place to stop this practice.
Hoffman Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law
Tulane Law School
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Last month, an article in Fortune noted that Ukraine so far has received more than 600 grants totaling almost $900 million. The article’s source for this information is Candid, an information services company specializing in nonprofits. In fact, Candid provides updates on a Philanthropic response to the war in Ukraine page as donations are made. The article stated that charities, such as Bloomberg Philanthropies, the IKEA Foundation, and the American Red Cross have donated $25 million, $22 million, and $12 million, respectively. Celebrities and others have also made large donations to Ukraine. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated $1 million to Ukrainian refugees through the United Nations refugee agency in late February. Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings donated $1 million to Razom, a 501(c)(3) aiding Ukraine. Other celebrity donors have raised significant sums for Ukraine, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis who raised over $30 million and Bethenny Frankel —a former Real Housewives of New York star who raised $85 million for Ukraine.
The article also references Congress’ approval of The Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 in March, which provides $13.6 billion in emergency funding, which includes $3.5 billion for military supplies alone.
The author notes that these figures raise the question of how much the war is costing Ukraine. According to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine is spending approximately $4 billion each day on war. Russia’s war expenses are believed to be over $20 billion per day according to Consultancy.org.
Clearly, Ukraine needs any funds that are donated to end up in the hands of those charities that will put them to their best possible use. I have written about the need for efficiency in terms of charitable giving (an "efficient charitable market"), and this issue is brought into sharp focus in considering the current plight of Ukraine. The need for transparency is brought into sharp focus as well. Organizations such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance are helping donors find appropriate relief efforts. Charity Navigator has compiled a list of top nonprofits seeking to advance relief and recovery efforts in Ukraine. CNBC recently published a list of over 30 organizations that are highly-rated in terms of financial efficiency and transparency by category.
Hoffman Fuller Associate Profesor of Tax Law
Tulane Law School
Saturday, May 21, 2022
Two recent news stories underline the importance of crowdfunding for supporting Ukraine and Ukrainians. The N.Y. Times reports that Ukrainian appeals to private individuals and companies have led to contributions of numerous items that have military applications, including drones, night vision scopes, body armor, rifles, and ammunition. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the Ukrainian government is enhancing its crowdfunding efforts to keep support flowing even as the Russian invasion of Ukraine passes the three-month mark.
And even the incredibly busy IRS has taken the time to ease ways of supporting Ukraine. Notice 2022-28 provides guidance on how employers can adopt leave-based donation programs to aid citizens and residents or Ukraine, individuals presently in Ukraine, or refugees from Ukraine. Importantly it states:
Employer leave-based donation payments made by an employer before January 1, 2023, to section 170(c) organizations to aid victims of the further Russian invasion of Ukraine (qualified employer leave-based donation payments) will not be treated as gross income or wages (or compensation, as applicable) of the employees of the employer. Similarly, employees electing or with an opportunity to elect to forgo leave that funds the qualified employer leave-based donation payments will not be treated as having constructively received gross income or wages (or compensation, as applicable).
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Ukraine Donations Update: Billions of Dollars, Millions of Volunteers, Airbnb, Crypto, Tax Research Scholarships
- Candid is tracking the philanthropic response to the war in Ukraine, including reporting almost 600 grants totaling over $700 million and another 137 pledges worth over $660 million. It also reported on a survey from Fidelity Charitable that found a quarter of Americans have donated to support Ukraine.
- Global Citizen reports that the Stand Up for Ukraine event in Warsaw resulted in pledges totaling over $10 billion to support the millions who have had to flee their homes in Ukraine. This is in addition to numerous grassroots volunteer efforts, as detailed by Elizabeth Cullen Dunn (Indiana University) at The Conversation.
- Airbnb's much publicized efforts to help Ukrainian refugees have at times created frustrating situations for those refugees, according to a recent MarketWatch report.
- Crypto donations are also part of the effort, in part because Ukraine aid groups are actively seeking them according to this Chronicle of Philanthropy article (subscription required). The L.A. Times also reports that over $59 million in crypto assets have been received by the National Bank of Ukraine and other recipients that support the Ukrainian military.
- Tax Research Scholarships: Three European and international tax organizations (EATLP, IBFD, and IFA) have joined together to offer research grants to graduate students and others pursuing tax research that have had their careers disputed by the war in Ukraine. The deadline for applying for the the grants of up to EUR 3000 per month for up to one year is April 30, 2022.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Religion News Service (RNS) is today reporting that the war in Ukraine has split Russian Orthodox parishes across Europe, forcing believers outside Russia to either stay loyal to the church leadership in Moscow despite its support for the invasion, leave the church in protest or seek a messy middle ground.
Writing for today's edition of RNS, Tom Heneghan states:
While public opinion in Europe has almost unanimously denounced the war Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed, the small communities of Russian Orthodox faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate are in a bind because its head, Patriarch Kirill, has come out solidly in its favor.
Many of these believers are Western-born descendants of earlier emigres who have few links to today’s Russia but a faith anchored in the Russian tradition. Some belong to other Orthodox churches but happen to frequent a Russian church.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Metropolitan John of Dubna, Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe, in an open letter to Patriarch Kirill on March 9, struck a typical note by declaring solidarity with Ukraine and calling the war “monstrous and senseless.” While denouncing Kirill’s support of the war and asking for his intervention, Dubna stopped short of taking action that might signal a formal break.
Others stopped commemorating the patriarch in their liturgies -- an act which ranks as a serious protest in Orthodox churches -- but otherwise kept their dissent discreet. Only more attentive parishioners would notice at a Sunday service that the patriarch was not mentioned in normal commemorative prayers.
The Parish of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Amsterdam, where several hundred worshippers from about 20 nations attend weekly services in Dutch, Russian or English, has learned how complicated this choice can be. Probably the first Western Orthodox church to break ties with Moscow over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, St. Nicholas went from loyal criticism of Moscow’s decision to switching its allegiance to the rival Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.
“There are many traditions within Russian Orthodoxy,” Archimandrite Meletios Webber, head of the parish, told the congregation earlier today, Monday, March 14.
The London-born archimandrite — a monsignor in Roman Catholic terminology — spoke in a clipped English accent at his church near central Amsterdam. Another Orthodox priest translated his remarks into Russian.
“This tradition cannot be attached to any organization or any thought which promotes violence and warfare,” said Meletios, born an Anglican but converted during his studies at Oxford by the influential British Orthodox theologian, Bishop Kallistos Ware.
Heneghan tells the story leading to this announcement in lively and interesting detail:
Horrified by the ferocious fighting in Ukraine, the four priests of St. Nicholas first signed a petition in early March asking Patriarch Kirill to urge Russian authorities to end the war. But Kirill, doubling down like his ally Putin, came out in favor of the war, prompting a petition from Orthodox priests in Russia against the violence. Even the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church loyal to Moscow, Patriarch Onufry, appealed to Putin for “an immediate end to the fratricidal war.”
The priests in Amsterdam decided they could no longer commemorate Kirill at their divine liturgies and informed their superior, Archbishop Elisey of the Moscow Patriarchate in The Hague.
On March 6, Archbishop Elisey turned up unannounced just before their Sunday service. He took over the celebration and made sure a deacon from outside the parish commemorated Kirill.
“His visit was like a spiritual tank sent to our parish,” one parishioner complained afterwards to the Dutch daily Nederlands Dagblad.
The archbishop, who came in a car from the Russian embassy, warned the priests that both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Foreign Ministry were closely following developments in the parish.
The priests saw Archbishop Elisey’s warning as a threat but loyally mentioned his name during the service. “Then we started making contact with other hierarchs,” Meletios said.
“We have not left the Moscow Patriarchate,” the priests wrote on the parish website last week in an initial report about the archbishop’s unexpected visit. They listed examples from the past when dropping a patriarch’s name from a liturgy was not considered a schism.
But by Tuesday, March 8, a “Z” — the symbol widely used in support of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine — was daubed on the church’s gates. During the week, the parish received enough other threats that it decided to close down until further notice.
It was “no longer possible to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for their believers,” they concluded in another report on Saturday.
“We cannot go back on our decision to distance ourselves from Patriarch Kirill. Our consciences will not allow that,” they said. “So we see ourselves forced to link with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
The priests have now asked Archbishop Elisey to officially dismiss them from his diocese and asked Metropolitan Athenagoras, the top cleric of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Benelux countries, to take them under his wing.
According to the priests, they took this "very difficult step with pain in [their] hearts." As far as they are concerned, they and their parish "are concerned with the kingdom of Heaven and not with any political movement of any kind of kingdom here on Earth.”
As an ordained minister of religion myself, I stand in solidarity with these priests who have chosen to speak truth to power. I wish them well.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Friday, March 4, 2022
UPDATE: Beth Gazley (Indiana University), who studies nonprofits and particularly giving during disasters, has a good piece at The Conversation with pointers for giving wisely to help Ukrainians (How to responsibly donate to Ukrainian causes). And the Charity Commission for England and Wales has issued a Statement on Ukraine crisis and its implications for charities with both similar advice and issues relating to Russian charities in light of financial sanctions.
The speed with which events have moved in Ukraine, the firehose of information about the Russian invasion, and the fog of war make it difficult to get an even close to complete understanding of how donations are flowing to help Ukrainians and the role of charities in providing assistance. Nevertheless, some data points are emerging.
The deluge of media and social media attention appears to be generating a strong stream of donations. As reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy (‘It’s Not Like Anything I’ve Ever Seen': Aid Groups Report Overwhelming Donor Response for Ukraine), charities with experience and ties to Ukraine are seeing a surge in donations that at least initially is much higher than what occurred with other recent humanitarian crises. Several charities reported inflows to help Ukrainians in the millions of dollars just over the first six days since the invasion began on February 24th. The Washington Post reports (What people are donating to Ukraine and its refugees: Crypto, ammo, pet food and cash) that not only cash but also goods ranging from flour to pet food to ammunition are flowing to Ukrainians. And these private efforts are on top of the supplies and funds coming from governments, including an expected $6.4 billion in emergency aid for the region from the United States.
Thanks to the Internet and especially social media, donors can quickly identify the established charities that are most involved in helping Ukrainians. As early as February 25th, NPR reported (Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here's how you can help) on charities with programs already in place to help Ukrainians. See also this list from the Washington Post. And GoFundMe has established the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund that makes grants to charities identified in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, GlobalGiving, and others.
Ukrainians are also themselves establishing avenues for individuals and businesses to provide support. These range from funding humanitarian supplies for the Armed Forces of Ukraine through the National Bank of Ukraine, a GoFundMe campaign to support the Ukrainian media, and English-language campaigns by individual institutions such as the Ukrainian Catholic University.
Businesses are being creative in how they can provide support to Ukrainians. The above Washington Post story includes accounts of a Polish optician provided free eyeglasses and an Italian watch dealer giving the proceeds from the auction of a vintage Russian timepiece. In addition, Airbnb announced it will offer free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. And of course this support is on top of businesses reconsidering their ties to Russia and Belarus, and particularly to state-owned enterprises and wealthy allies of Vladimir Putin.
Individuals are also being creative in how they get support to Ukrainians. For example, some individuals are renting Ukrainian Airbnbs that they have no intention of ever staying in to get funds quickly to their Ukrainian owners. Coverage: The Guardian; Today Show; USA Today. As this Twitter feed about this effort demonstrates, this method of donating is creating direct connections to individual Ukrainians that giving to charities, no matter how worthy, mostly lack.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
UPDATE: Politico article summarizing all of the comments submitted.
Axios reports that nonprofits from across the political spectrum are raising concerns about possible changes to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) regulations that could impact many nonprofits. The Department of Justice formally announced plans for these changes in an Advanced Notice of Public Rulemaking (ANPR) issued in December. The ANPR includes questions relating to the scope of agency for purposes of identifying agents of foreign principals (including the definition of "political consultant"), the scope of various exemptions, and various procedural issues.
The 29 comments submitted in response to the ANPR include one from a group of 14 nonprofits, among them the Alliance for Justice, the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, the NRDC, and Oxfam America, that is highlighted in the above Axios article. Their comment emphasized that "FARA’s overbreadth and vagueness can undermine and chill First Amendment rights to speech and association and the statute has a history of being used to target undesirable expressive conduct." Other comments from nonprofits, some of which were also part of the group of 14, include ones from the American Council on Education, the Institute for Free Speech, InterAction, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Friday, September 3, 2021
MinistryWatch, a watchdog organization focusing on religious nonprofits, recently reported on the continuing legal dispute between former donors and GFA World (formally Gospel for Asia). The most recent developments may have been missed by U.S. nonprofit observers because they are happening in a Toronto courtroom, unlike an earlier class action suit against the organization that was brought in Arkansas and settled in 2019.
According to the report, the Canadian lawsuit alleges that GFA World misused more than $100 million in donations. The allegations are based in part on asserted discrepancies between documents filed by GFA World, specifically Canadian tax forms reporting millions of dollars going to India and Indian forms showing no transfers from Canada to India. The donors bringing the suit are seeking class action status. GFA World has denied any wrongdoing.
Friday, July 30, 2021
White House Announces New Religions Affairs Leaders, Including First Islamic Religious Freedom Ambassador
The White House announced Friday (July 30) a slate of nominations and appointments for top religious affairs roles, including the first Muslim American nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
According to a report by the Religious News Service (RNS), President Biden will select Rashad Hussain as his nominee for that post, filling a State Department slot vacant since former Kansas governor and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback left at the close of the Trump administration. Hussain, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently works as director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council.
Mr. Hussain previously served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, as well as U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and U.S. special envoy for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, among other roles.
Commenting on the upcoming nomination, Saeed Khan, an expert on American Muslim communities at Wayne State University, stated: “Rashad’s appointment demonstrates not only the importance the Biden administration places on religious freedom, it also shows the importance of the Muslim world to the administration both in terms of combatting Islamophobia and also promoting religious freedom in Muslim majority countries. Rashad’s background will allow him to have a frank discussion with Muslim majority countries about religious freedom.”
Anila Ali, a co-founder of the American Muslims and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council Iftar who has worked with Hussain in the past, also celebrated his nomination. “As AMMWEC, and as a woman leader, I look forward to working with him because women play an important role in peace-making,” Ali said. “He has worked with Muslim communities during the Obama period and we hope his relevant experience is going to make him a voice for all of us.”
According to the RNS report, President Biden is also expected to nominate Deborah Lipstadt as the next U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Lipstadt is a professor at Emory University in Atlanta and a prominent Holocaust historian. She is the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now and is known for successfully defeating a libel suit brought against her by Holocaust denier David Irving.
Commenting on the expected nomination of Prof. Lipstadt, Mark (Moishe) Bane, president of the Orthodox Union, had this to say: “She is a leader with great moral courage; her dedicated work, clear voice in fighting Holocaust denial and preserving the memory of the attempted destruction of the Jewish people make her an exemplary choice for this role.”
In addition, President Biden plans to appoint two new commissioners to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: Khizr Khan and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum.
Khan became famous in 2016 when he and his wife, Ghazala, spoke during the Democratic National Convention as “Gold Star” parents, discussing their son, Humayun, a U.S. Army captain who died in Iraq in 2004. Mr. Khan, the founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Project, runs his own law practice and has authored three books, including This is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father.
Kleinbaum, for her part, already served as a USCIRF commissioner in 2020 and leads the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City, a community that centers LGBTQ people. A human rights advocate, she also sits on Mayor de Blasio’s Faith Based Advisory Council and serves on New York City’s Commission on Human Rights. In addition, she is a board member of the New York Jewish Agenda and the New Israel Fund.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Saturday, April 3, 2021
Americans lead the world in supporting charitable activities (both in the U.S. and abroad). For foreign charitable activities, two key questions arise:
1. Should tax benefits support charitable activities outside the U.S.?
2. Should the U.S. tax system treat contributions to foreign charities differently from contributions to domestic charities?
U.S. tax law imposes remarkably low barriers to cross-border philanthropy. Contributions to U.S. charities are deductible even if all charitable activity takes place outside the U.S. Nominally, direct contributions to foreign charities are generally not deductible for income tax purposes. Practically, donors can easily work around this restriction (at relatively low costs and complexity) by transmuting non-deductible contributions to foreign charities into deductible contributions to domestic charities.
The hard question is normative: what should the law be? This chapter provides a framework for examining the desirability of the current regime and the different factors policy-makers may find useful in considering options to either reduce or increase barriers to cross-border philanthropy.
FATF Announces New Project to Mitigate Unintended Consequences of Its Standards, Especially on Nonprofits
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has announced that in February of this year it launched "a new project to study and mitigate the unintended consequences resulting from the incorrect implementation of the FATF Standards." Those standards guide countries in implementing legal rules and processes to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal, international financial activity. Nonprofits have long complained that countries have used the standards as cover for improperly cracking down on cross-border philanthropy, particularly philanthropy supporting disfavored nonprofits.
Here is the full announcement:
In February 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) launched a new project to study and mitigate the unintended consequences resulting from the incorrect implementation of the FATF Standards.
The project will focus on four main areas:
- De-risking, or the loss or limitation of access to financial services. This practice has affected non-profit organisations (NPOs), money value transfer service providers, and correspondent banking relationships, in particular;
- Financial exclusion, a phenomenon whereby individuals are excluded from the formal financial system and denied access to basic financial services;
- Suppression of NPOs or the NPO sector as a whole through non-implementation of the FATF’s risk-based approach;
- Threats to fundamental human rights stemming from the misuse of the FATF Standards or AML/CFT assessment processes to enact, justify, or implement laws, which may violate rights such as due process or the right to a fair trial.
The FATF will conduct the project in two phases:
Phase One: research and engagement. The project team will analyse these unintended consequences resulting from the misuse of the FATF’s Standards on preventing and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This work will draw on the knowledge and experiences of members of the FATF’s Global Network of 205 jurisdictions, its observers, and outside stakeholders.
Phase Two: solutions. The second phase will develop options the FATF could consider to prevent and mitigate these unintended consequences.
The FATF welcomes input to inform this project, including, for example: scholarly research; industry and civil society perspectives; and documented instances of unintended consequences. Information may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. While contributions are welcome for the duration of the project, they would be most relevant for Phase One if submitted on or before 20 April 2021.
This is not an investigative endeavour, but an opportunity to study trends and propose solutions. Any information provided to the FATF Secretariat will be shared with the project team and the source will be identified. Depending on the volume of input, we may not be able to follow up on each suggestion for engagement, nor are we able to provide feedback about how, or if, information received is used.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Today's NonProfitTimes is reporting that the standards, guidelines and definitions for reporting the results of educational philanthropy have been updated with new guidance on gift counting, a new definition of educational philanthropy and for the first time, a statement on ethics.
According to the Times, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recently released the CASE Global Reporting Standards. For the first time since its initial publication in 1982, the standards offer a digital subscription and six-country supplement.
Previously referred to as the CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines, the CASE Global Reporting Standards is a common set of standards, guidelines and definitions for reporting the results of educational philanthropy activities at schools, colleges and universities across the globe.
The guidelines underpin CASE’s ongoing work to guide the profession, ensure integrity and consistency in educational advancement work, and to support CASE’s own work in data collection and reporting with its AMAtlas suite of tools such as the recently released Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey results.
The Times notes three key changes within the standards this year:
- Updated guidance around gift counting, funds received, new funds committed, and donor control and influence.
- For the first time, the CASE Global Reporting Standards added the CASE Statement on Ethics to the front of the book and adds the CASE Principles of Practice for the advancement disciplines, all recently updated by the CASE Commissions for Philanthropy, Communications and Marketing, and Alumni Relations and approved by the CASE Board of Trustees. The CASE Principles of Practice provide global guidelines for those professions and represent the community-derived foundations on which the advancement profession stands.
- A new definition for educational philanthropy: Voluntary act of providing private financial support to nonprofit educational institutions. To be categorized as philanthropy in keeping with CASE standards, such financial support must be provided for the sole purpose of benefiting the institution’s mission and its social impact, without the expressed or implied expectation that the donor will receive anything more than recognition and stewardship as the result of such support.
Announcing the new guidelines via a press release, CASE President & CEO Sue Cunningham stated, “The CASE Global Reporting Standards have at their core the CASE Ethics Statement and Principles of Practice for the profession. As institutional funding has evolved and created increasing expectations for philanthropic support, the need for clear guidance is paramount.”
The standards were reviewed and updated under the leadership of the CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines Working Group. The group is comprised of 19 CASE volunteers and staff, co-chaired by Matthew Eynon, Vice President for College Advancement at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Brian Hastings, President and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation in Lincoln, Nebraska. Six groups of regional volunteers also provided guidance on the new regional supplements for Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including text in Spanish and French.
Commenting on the project, Enyon had this to say: “In developing the first global reporting standards for the advancement profession, CASE has decided to make a statement about the power, impact and importance of philanthropy around the world. The working group members represented many of the leading advancement programs in the world, and their efforts helped to ensure we defined standards which represent excellence in our profession.”
Hastings added: “The standards are an essential element of upholding the integrity of our profession on a global scale. By reporting and benchmarking annual and campaign results consistent with the standards, all CASE member institutions can compare results with a greater level of confidence and understanding.”
Print copies and digital subscriptions of the Global Reporting Standards are available with a CASE membership discount from the CASE bookstore.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Int'l Developments: Ten Cases That Shaped Charity Law in 2020, European Legal Philanthropy Environment, Global Philanthropy, and Tax Incentives for Cross-Border Giving
- Ten Cases that Shaped Charity and Nonprofit Law in 2020 And Ten Trends to Consider by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Frances Hannah (both Queensland University of Technology): Based on a review of over 200 cases.
- Legal Environment for Philanthropy in Europe (2020) by Philanthropy Advocacy, a joint project of the Donors and Foundations Network in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC).
- Global Philanthropy: Does Institutional Context Matter for Charitable Giving? (Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly) by Pamela Wiepking (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy), Femida Handy (University of Pennsylvania), Sohyun Park (Yonsei University), and others. Here is the abstract:
In this article, we examine whether and how the institutional context matters when understanding individuals’ giving to philanthropic organizations. We posit that both the individuals’ propensity to give and the amounts given are higher in countries with a stronger institutional context for philanthropy. We examine key factors of formal and informal institutional contexts for philanthropy at both the organizational and societal levels, including regulatory and legislative frameworks, professional standards, and social practices. Our results show that while aggregate levels of giving are higher in countries with stronger institutionalization, multilevel analyses of 118,788 individuals in 19 countries show limited support for the hypothesized relationships between institutional context and philanthropy. The findings suggest the need for better comparative data to understand the complex and dynamic influences of institutional contexts on charitable giving. This, in turn, would support the development of evidence-based practices and policies in the field of global philanthropy.
- Tax Incentives for Cross-Border Giving in an Era of Philanthropic Globalization: A Comparative Perspective (Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law) by Natalie Silver (University of Sydney) and Renate Buijze (Erasmus University Rotterdam). Here is the abstract:
The 21st century has ushered in an era of philanthropic globalization marked by a significant rise in international charitable giving. At the same time, cross-border philanthropy has raised legitimate fiscal and regulatory concerns for government. To understand how donor countries have responded to this changed global philanthropic landscape, we use comparative tax methodology to develop a spectrum of approaches to the tax treatment of cross-border giving and apply tax policy criteria to critically evaluate the divergent approaches of Australia and the Netherlands, located at opposing ends of the spectrum. Findings from the comparative analysis reveal that in the current global environment for philanthropy there is a strong case to be made for allowing tax deductible donations to cross borders.
Monday, December 7, 2020
The OECD recently issued a report on Taxation and Philanthropy that will likely be of interest to our readers.
The summary provides: "This report provides a detailed review of the tax treatment of philanthropic entities and philanthropic giving in 40 OECD member and participating countries. The report first examines the various arguments for and against the provision of preferential tax treatment for philanthropy. It then reviews the tax treatment of philanthropic entities and giving in the 40 participating countries, in both a domestic and cross-border context. Drawing on this analysis, the report then highlights a range of potential tax policy options for countries to consider."
Saturday, November 21, 2020
C. Chapman, M. Homsey, N. Gillespie: A Longitudinal & Multinational Examination of Public Trust in Nonprofits
Cassandra M. Chapman, Matthew J. Homsey, and Nicole Gillespie (all from the University of Queensland) have published No Global Crisis in Trust: A Longitudinal and Multinational Examination of Public Trust in Nonprofits in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Here is the abstract:
Recent high-profile scandals suggest the potential for a crisis of trust in charities, which could have negative consequences for the nonprofit sector as a whole. Although widespread, this crisis narrative has not yet been subjected to empirical examination. To assess the extent to which public trust has changed over time, we examined trust in nongovernmental organizations within 31 countries over nine consecutive years using data from the Edelman Trust Barometer (N = 294,176). Multilevel analysis revealed that, after allowing for differences in absolute levels of trust and trends across countries, there was actually a small increase in global trust in the nonprofit sector. This increase was sharper among men, people aged below 40 years, and people with higher education, income, and media consumption. Overall, we find no evidence of a crisis of trust in nonprofits; scandals within individual organizations have not affected sectoral trust.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Oonagh B. Breen (University College Dublin) has published Regulating European Philanthropy: Lessons from the Scholarly Legacy of Evelyn Brody in the Nopnrofit Policy Forum. Here is the abstract:
Throughout her long and distinguished academic career, spanning more than three decades, as a Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent University, Evelyn Brody’s work has interrogated three broad themes that underpin and drive charity law – the tax treatment of charities; the governance framework applicable to charities, its application, monitoring and enforcement; and the evolution of charitable structures over time, whether from an economic convergence perspective, a constitutional right of association perspective or from a public/private benefit perspective. This article reviews Brody’s contribution in these key areas. It explores the resonance of her work outside of the United States and its relevance for EU non-profit scholars before looking to Brody’s research legacy for future nonprofit scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.
Langford (two papers): Conflicts and Coherence in the Charities Sphere; Using the Corporate Form for Public Benefit
Rosemary Teele Langford (Melbourne) has posted two articles. The first is Conflicts and Coherence in the Charities Sphere: Would a Conflict By Any Other Name Proscribe the Same?, 14 Journal of Equity 1 (2020). Here is the abstract:
Proscriptions on conflicts of interest have long been a core component of governance regimes. In the charities sphere such proscriptions arise from a number of sources, including general law, statute and governance standards articulated by the regulator. Unfortunately the wording of relevant conflicts duties varies extensively, giving rise to acute incoherence and uncertainty. This article undertakes detailed critical analysis of the myriad of conflicts duties in order to provide certainty and comprehensive guidance. This resolution is relevant beyond the charitable sphere given the multitude of ways in which conflicts proscriptions are expressed in other governance contexts.
The second is Use of the Corporate Form for Public Benefit - Revitalisation of Australian Corporations Law, which will be published in 43 University of New South Wales Law Journal No. 3 (2020). Here is the abstract:
This article specifically addresses the theme of revitalisation of Australian law in the facilitation of purpose-based companies. It is the second of two articles on purpose-based governance in the charitable and for-profit spheres. Building on the first article, this article critically analyses relevant features of the Australian corporations law regime. It pays close attention to challenges relating to the application of directors’ duties where companies have multiple purposes and to the drafting of appropriate constitutional provisions. In so doing it draws on insights from overseas jurisdictions that have enacted legislation to enable purpose-based companies.