Grassroots Organizations: The Fuel Behind International Organizations and a Force to be Reckoned With
They are known by different names around the globe; from CBOs (community-based organizations) and civil societies to associations, or foundations. Irrespective of what they are labeled, they are within the same family, namely, the “social sector or nonprofit sector,” and unlike international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have first-hand experience of what the real world problems are.
In every country and every community-whether rich or poor-there are groups of individuals formed to address issues in their midst. They have an inbuilt resilience mechanism in place to help minimize the effects of disruption and disorder caused by the many social problems in place. Their greatest asset is strength and to actively work within their community without outside funding is phenomenal; however, with support, they can certainly achieve more.
Funders say they would like to work with locals but fear the “capacity gap.” So they fund projects that are led and equipped by outsiders(i.e., foreign organizations registered in their country); when they are done, they leave, and that’s that. The funding consequently skips the local economy.
Current global development narratives mostly highlight the international actor or organization, and rarely offer recognition of the crucial role played by the local organizations [they partner with] who are in reality, responsible for getting the work done at the community level. Unfortunately, just like the INGOs do not understand the local organizations, the local organizations too, fail to understand them. This creates mistrust among these groups.
In the United States, a donor cannot receive a tax deduction if they donate to a non-recognized foreign organization. The IRS Charitable publication to this effect states, “Contribution in which you cannot get a tax deduction- Foreign organizations other than certain Canadian, Israeli, or Mexican charitable organizations. Also, you cannot deduct a contribution you made to any qualifying organization if the contribution is earmarked to go to a foreign organization. However, certain contributions to a qualified organization for use in a program conducted by a foreign charity may be deductible as long as they aren’t earmarked to go to the foreign charity. For the contribution to be deductible, the qualified organization must approve the program as furthering its own exempt purposes and must keep control over the use of the contributed funds. The contribution is also deductible if the foreign charity is only an administrative arm of the qualified organization.”
Why doesn’t the international community invest/donate to local organizations? There are four key reasons:
- The international community is not aware of who the local organizations are;
- Funding structures are not suitable for supporting local organizations;
- Local organizations are not given status by the international community;
- Most agencies are not willing to take the risk of working with small “unknown” organizations.
Many local organizations do not have a website due to the fact that they have not recognized the importance of technology in their operations The other reason being, it is also costly (hard to maintain). They believe that their approach is suitable and instead use social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to showcase their work. Those platforms are definitely easier for them to function with, however, the efficacy of this alternative it is still in question because not every organization is tech savvy.
Where capacity already exists
People under the direct direst of circumstances, can and do pull together. Local organizational movements are an expression of solidarity. They are vital to supporting genuine, demand-driven social change that can challenge power asymmetries and address deeply-rooted inequality, injustice, and poverty.
Current global development narratives most often portray the international actor organizations, and rarely offer recognition of the crucial role of the local organizations getting the job done in their community. In making acclaimed international bodies the “poster child” of societal change, movements lose much of the keen understanding, rootedness, and localization brought about by grassroots organizations. In painting broad strokes, vital details are often overlooked.
Thus, in this light, we must give local organizations the tools to change the narrative in order for the international community to tackle their challenges with accurate data, resources and a revolution that starts from the roots before rising up.
- Canadian charities. You may be able to deduct contributions to certain Canadian charitable organizations covered under an income tax treaty with Canada. To deduct your contribution to a Canadian charity, you generally must have income from sources in Canada. See Pub. 597, Information on the United States-Canada Income Tax Treaty, for information on how to figure your deduction.
- Israeli charities. Under the U.S.-Israel income tax treaty, a contribution to an Israeli charitable organization is deductible if and to the extent the contribution would have been treated as a charitable contribution if the organization had been created or organized under U.S. law. To deduct your contribution to an Israeli charity, you must have income from sources in Israel. The limits described in Limits on Deductions, later, apply. The deduction is also limited to 25% of your adjusted gross income from Israeli sources.
- Mexican charities. Under the U.S.-Mexico income tax treaty, a contribution to a Mexican charitable organization may be deductible, but only if and to the extent, the contribution would have been treated as a charitable contribution to a public charity created or organized under U.S. law. To deduct your contribution to a Mexican charity, you must have income from sources in Mexico. The limits described in Limits on Deductions, later, apply and are figured using your income from Mexican sources.
- You can’t deduct contributions to organizations that aren’t qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions, including the following. 1. Certain state bar associations if: a. The bar isn’t a political subdivision of a state; b. The bar has private, as well as public, purposes, such as promoting the professional interests of members; and c. Your contribution is unrestricted and can be used for private purposes. 2. Chambers of commerce and other business leagues or organizations. 3. Civic leagues and associations. 4. Country clubs and other social clubs. Foreign organizations other than certain Canadian, Israeli, or Mexican charitable organizations. (See Canadian charities, Mexican charities, and Israeli charities under Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions, earlier.) Also, you can’t deduct a contribution you made to any qualifying organization if the contribution is earmarked to go to a foreign organization. However, certain contributions to a qualified organization for use in a program conducted by a foreign charity may be deductible as long as they aren’t earmarked to go to the foreign charity. For the contribution to be deductible, the qualified organization must approve the program as furthering its own exempt purposes and must keep control over the use of the contributed funds. The contribution is also deductible if the foreign charity is only an administrative arm of the qualified organization. 6. Homeowners’ associations. 7. Labor unions. But you may be able to deduct union dues as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit, on Schedule A (Form 1040). See Pub. 529, Miscellaneous Deductions. 8. Political organizations and candidates