United States International Grantmaking (USIG) Unveils New Website

10 May 2000

The Council on Foundations, in conjunction with ICNL, the American Express Company, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is pleased to announce the unveiling of a new website to support international grantmaking: www.usig.org.

The goal of the USIG project is to ease the barriers to cross-border grantmaking for U.S foundations and streamline the communication and reporting procedures required of U.S. foundations by the Internal Revenue Service. The work of USIG involves sharing best practices among foundations active in cross-border grantmaking; working toward the revision of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations that govern giving abroad; and facilitating information sharing by collecting key forms (e.g. affidavits) and legal information by country in a central (electronic) place for easy access by grantmakers.

Three task forces coordinated by a Steering Committee carry out the activities.

a) Best Practices Task Force:

This task force seeks to identify, clarify and communicate information grantseekers need to provide foundations with when requesting cross-border grants. It has carried out this work by reviewing the documents and forms various foundations use with their grantees and by developing a set of “model” materials.

Model materials for both equivalency determination (ED) grants and expenditure responsibility grants (ER) have been completed and are posted on the web site.

These model materials include:

  • Memos to grantees explaining why foundations request this information
  • Pre-grant inquiries
  • Grant agreements
  • A lobby piece from the MacArthur and Mott foundations
  • Annual reports (long and short versions)
  • An ER grant report for 990-PF
b) Administrative/Legislative Task Force:

This task force focuses on the obstacles to cross-border grantmaking within the existing regulatory framework.

Current problems include the duration and level of the reporting requirements for certain types of grants, the out-of-corpus rules, restrictions on regranting, and rules for equivalency determinations.

Under the guidance of the Council’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel John Edie, the International Committee, the Council’s Committee on Legislation and Regulations, and the law firm of Caplin & Drysdale (which serves as the Council’s legal counsel) are in discussion with the IRS and Treasury to simplify procedural requirements. A resolution is expected at the end of 2000.

c) The Information Sharing Task Force:
This task force is charged with determining if an electronic database of information on practice and legislation concerning cross-border grants is a useful tool for international grantmakers.

A central element of the USIG work is the launching of the web site www.usig.org to allow foundations to find the model materials for equivalency determination and expenditure responsibility cross-border grants. In addition, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law has written reports on the non-profit sector in key countries (an initial list of 18 priority countries will be completed first) and specifically on the laws that pertain to establishing equivalency.

The website currently services both grantmakers and grantseekers. Grantmakers may find useful articles for making international grants, model materials they may distribute to possible grantees, and the aforementioned country specific reports that they may use when making international grants to meet IRS requirements.

Grantseekers may also find information on receiving grants from U.S. Grantmakers, but the greatest asset is the ability to fill out an Affidavit on-line to reduce the amount of paperwork and time required of the international grantmaking process.

The Council’s International Programs maintains the website with the assistance of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law.