During my 10 years teaching and training nonprofits around the world, I have found that some of the biggest challenges they grapple with in seeking funding are related to differentiating themselves from the plethora of other great causes in the market; establishing their legitimacy in a field in which the few fraudulent ones have created fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of donors; and identifying which donors could potentially be interested in their cause, have the capacity to give and are accessible.

If you ask any group of U.S.-based foundations their primary source of information about a nonprofit with which they are unfamiliar most of them will likely say that they google to find out about them.  In the case of international nonprofits looking to raise funds in the U.S., the strength of their digital presence is critical in that it helps to convey the credibility of the organization, in the absence of a physical location the U.S. for funders to easily visit.  

In a market that has over 1.5 million nonprofits, international nonprofits looking to differentiate themselves without the advantage of having operations or programming in the U.S. need to leverage digital channels to convey their unique value proposition to compel support.  An effective digital presence for any nonprofit organization conveys a sense of trustworthiness, authenticity and clarity of purpose to the funders.

International nonprofits also need to be able to utilize resources available to them online, such as GrantSpace and Foundation Directory Online, to learn about the U.S.-based foundations that would potentially be interested in funding them. Finding out who among them are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as SDG Funders, can help nonprofits to engage with funders online, as a means to potentially enter into their respective grantmaking processes.

Additionally, international nonprofits seeking to access U.S.-based foundations most likely need to establish a presence in the U.S., given that almost 70% of U.S. grants are made to U.S.-based intermediaries, whereas only 12% of them are made directly to international organizations in their local countries (source).  There are four paths international nonprofits can take to legally access U.S.-based funding:

  1. Equivalency Determination
  2. Expenditure Responsibility
  3. Fiscal Sponsorship
  4. Establishment of a 501(c) 3 organization

Published in conjunction with the previously held special event webinar, Expand Your International Organization’s Presence to Attract U.S. Funders.

Explore more resources for international organizations.

About the Author(s)

Liz Ngonzi Adjunct Faculty New York University Center for Global Affairs View Bio

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