Ten years ago this month the Charity & Security Network opened its office and launched a campaign to address serious problems that post-9/11 laws and enforcement actions created for charities, especially those that serve people in parts of the world plagued by conflict and humanitarian crises.
The network’s founders represented diverse stakeholders in the U.S. nonprofit sector, including grantmakers, international NGOs, civil liberties groups and legal experts. They had been working together since passage of the PATRIOT ACT in 2001 to push back against ill-informed and hostile U.S. government action that shut down charities without adequate due process and froze millions of dollars in donations that could have been used to save lives and relieve human suffering.
With a new administration taking office, we believed there was an opening for the collective voice of the nonprofit sector to be heard, and for new approaches that would respect both charity and security to be taken. With initial support from the Open Society Foundations, a staff of two, including myself and Suraj Sazawal, came on board to provide support for this effort.
While there have been no quick fixes, C&SN, through the coordinated work of its members, has made substantial progress in the past ten years, despite headwinds that are putting pressure on civil society space and weakening respect for international humanitarian law globally. Engagement with government has been productive. This might be best reflected by Treasury’s recent update to its National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment, which acknowledges that the nonprofit sector as a whole is not a high terrorist financing risk and that “self-regulation initiatives within the charitable sector” have been a factor in reduced risk of terrorist financing abuse of U.S. charities.”
Over the next several months we will be featuring C&SN’s accomplishments and challenges over the past ten years. Watch for these in our newsletter and on our website. And in the spring we’ll host a celebration to recognize the many members and supporters who have made the successes of the past ten years possible. An announcement will be coming soon.
Reflecting on the past should help us to think about the future and the direction C&SN takes for the next ten years. We encourage you to share those thoughts with us as we move through 2019.