The US Council on Foundations and the European Foundation Centre have created “Principles of Accountability for International Philanthropy”. Canadian charities operating outside of Canada in addition to reviewing CRA’s Guidance on foreign activities may wish to review the Principles of Accountability for International Philanthropy as they provide some useful thoughts on international activities.
Here they are:
“Principles of Accountability for International Philanthropy
The following seven principles are intended to guide the international philanthropic work of independent funders:
Engage in international philanthropy in a way that is in line with and truthful to your mission, values, vision, and core competencies. Show that you are genuine in your intentions throughout all aspects (programmatic, operational, and financial) of your international work. Be honest and transparent with your stakeholders.
Take the time to research and understand the political, economic, social, cultural, and technological context in which your international philanthropy will take place. Tap into expertise that already exists, including at the local level, and develop a philanthropic strategy that is realistic and appropriate.
Avoid cultural arrogance by respecting cultural differences and human diversity. Recognize local knowledge, experience, and accomplishments. Be modest about what you know, what you can accomplish with the resources you have, and what you have yet to learn. When visiting international grantees and partners, always keep in mind that you are a guest in someone else’s country.
Listen carefully to your international grantees and partners in order to understand and respond adequately to their needs and realities. Be open and prepared to adjust your original objectives, timeline, and approach to the local context and capacity—resist the temptation to impose your own models or solutions. Build a relationship of trust with your international grantees and partners and with the communities where you work.
Be reasonable and flexible in what you require from your grantees and partners, ensuring that your demands are proportionate to the level, purpose, and nature of your support. Be mindful of their possibly limited capacity to deal with multiple funders, and do not demand of them what you would not demand of yourself.
6. Cooperation and Collaboration
Recognize that international work calls for a high level of cooperation and collaboration among funders themselves and with a variety of actors, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, governments, and multilateral organizations. Strive to work collaboratively in order to maximize resources, build synergies, boost creativity, and increase learning and impact.
Assess whether your international philanthropy is effective by engaging in a process of mutual learning with your peers, grantees, and partners. Demonstrate how your international philanthropy contributes to the achievement of your organization’s mission and the advancement of the public good. Plan for sustainability and commit to staying long enough to be effective.”
Here is a link to the main document with further details.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.