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Grantmakers Without Borders Voices Objections to the
"U.S. Department of the Treasury Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines"

Press Release: December 22, 2006

Vanessa Dick
Advocacy Coordinator

Grantmakers Without Borders
Washington, DC

Washington, DC - Grantmakers Without Borders ("Gw/oB"), a philanthropic network of 130 organizations all dedicated to providing humanitarian support to the Global South, strongly urges the Department of the Treasury to withdraw the "U.S. Department of the Treasury Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities" ("Guidelines") released in the October 31, 2006 Federal Register. Despite the Department of the Treasury's repeated efforts to improve the Guidelines (this 2006 release marks the third version of the Guidelines), many within the philanthropic sector find the Guidelines unrealistic and counterproductive. In fact, Gw/oB's letter to the Department of the Treasury is in addition to a similar letter sent by a coalition of 40 charitable sector organizations, lead by the Council on Foundations.

The Guidelines were released to assist charities in preventing the diversion of charitable funds to terrorism. Instead, "[the Guidelines] often chill the valuable work of international grantmakers, including Gw/oB's member organizations. Thus, philanthropic money that funds, for example, farming projects or support for tsunami victims is delayed or discontinued. This chilling effect is especially troubling since the Department of the Treasury has failed to provide real, non-anecdotal evidence that charitable funds are unintentionally being diverted for terrorist purposes."

Gw/oB's members fund international projects of hope and opportunity in vulnerable communities. Dedicated to the eradication of poverty and the promotion of social justice, Gw/oB's member organizations often support grantees that act as positive counter-points to terrorist influences. However, the suggested practices within the Guidelines would force Gw/oB's members to divert their limited financial and personnel resources from proven best practices in due diligence and instead engage in unproductive information gathering that ultimately distracts from their philanthropic mission. At the end of the day, the Guidelines ultimately fail to further their stated purpose, "to assist charities that attempt in good faith to protect themselves from terrorist abuse" and should be withdrawn.