NGOsource and Open Society Foundations:
Revolutionizing Cross-Border Philanthropy
By Tamara Dalloul, Program Manager, NGOsource & STEP
NGOsource was launched in 2013 as a project of the Council on Foundations and TechSoup. Our goal was to improve the efficiency of international grantmaking and address the complex and resource-intensive equivalency determination (ED) process that U.S. grantmakers faced in their cross-border philanthropy. Before NGOsource, grantmakers had to individually conduct an ED when planning to donate to a non-U.S. organization. Further, organizations had to comply with multiple duplicative requests and requirements from grantmakers to access funding. Bringing together expertise and resources from changemakers in the philanthropic sector, NGOsource centralized, streamlined, and standardized the ED process, facilitating flexibility in funding, and enhancing the visibility of NGOs globally.
EDs are a key part of the international funding process, where a U.S. grantmaker assesses if a foreign organization is equivalent to a U.S. public charity. NGOsource evaluates detailed information about the grantee to determine whether an organization is organized and operated like a U.S. public charity. With the help of collaboration with TechSoup Global Network partners, NGOsource can support organizations in different languages and time zones.
What follows offers a closer look at the impact of the partnership between NGOsource and the Open Society Foundations, among the first group of grantmakers to join NGOsource.
Unlocking Funding Opportunities
Since joining NGOsource in 2013, Open Society Foundations has been at the forefront of recognizing the potential of NGOsource’s ED process. This approach has allowed Open Society Foundations to move away from expenditure responsibility grants and leverage the flexibility of ED. As a result, new, more flexible funding opportunities have emerged, empowering communities around the world.
Over the past decade, Open Society Foundations have consistently increased their use of NGOsource ED, marking a spike from 250 to nearly 600 between 2019 and 2020 alone. The collaboration between NGOsource and Open Society Foundations aligns with Open Society Foundations’ mission to promote democratic governance, human rights, and social justice globally.
NGOsource’s partnership with Open Society Foundations has resulted in significant growth in the NGOsource ED repository. Currently, the NGOsource repository contains over 7,500 organizations that have successfully completed the ED process, with Open Society Foundations playing a key role in adding over 900 of these organizations to the repository.
This collaboration’s impact extends beyond the immediate benefits for the participating organizations. In 2022 alone, nearly 300 organizations funded by the Open Society Foundations had their EDs utilized by other NGOsource members, resulting in over 1,000 EDs issued on behalf of 77 grantmakers. NGOsource’s grantmaker membership over the years exceeds 600 grant-giving U.S. organizations, enabling a broader philanthropic community to gain insights and engage more effectively with global funders.
Sharing the NGOsource–OSF Impact at PEAK Grantmaking’s Annual Conference
In May 2023, over 1,000 members of the philanthropy sector convened at PEAK Grantmaking’s annual conference, engaging in conversations and sharing lessons learned throughout the sector. During the conference, NGOsource and the Open Society Foundations shared the impact of their partnership with a session titled “Increasing Flexibility in Funding Through the Use of Equivalency Determination (ED).” Led by Jonathon Fairhead from NGOsource and Mirela Gegprifti from Open Society Foundations, this discussion showcased how this collaboration has transformed the funding landscape, benefiting organizations and fostering cross-border philanthropy.
Enhancing International Funding
Through strategic partnerships, including collaboration with TechSoup Global Network partners, and streamlined processes, NGOsource revolutionized funding practices, bolstering support for NGOs and reshaping the nonprofit landscape. The repository has grown significantly, encompassing EDs in more than 161 countries and territories. With over 23,000 EDs, NGOsource has made a profound impact on the sector. Open Society Foundations’ contributions to the repository are substantial, having initiated nearly 1,000 EDs. Their partnership has played a vital role in fortifying the repository and resulted in a groundbreaking approach to philanthropy through the utilization of ED.
Whether you’re a grantmaker seeking to simplify your international giving process or a nonprofit aiming to broaden funding options, the NGOsource–Open Society Foundations partnership can provide inspiration for your own philanthropic journey. Embrace the potential of EDs to enhance flexibility in funding and contribute to reshaping the nonprofit sector for the better.