Giving internationally

Via Andrew Leigh’s blog I came upon Give Well which attempts to rank charities in terms of their effectivenss.  Damn good thing too.  I have a question to any Troppodillians who might know which is this “what has been done, if anything, to ‘internationalise’ our capacity to donate to international charities and qualify for tax deductibility.”  Obviously the international charities that are well known enough are registered here – Oxfam, UNICEF etc.

But the top ranked charity – saving lives for US$1,000 or less per life is Population Services International (PSI). I’ve never heard of them.  I would have thought there should be mutual recognition, or at least a presumption of mutual recognition, so that any charity that’s registered as charitable in another country whose registration process we have some faith in should qualify for tax deductibility here if you give money to it.

Does anyone know the score on this subject?

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Angharad
Angharad
13 years ago

Nicholas, I reckon charities in Australia are so stupidly regulated that it would be hard to establish international recognition the other way. There’s no international definition on the essential characteristics of a “not-for-profit” organisation, let alone the benefits they receive.

Plus there is that fundamental question – what’s the real purpose of giving tax deductibility for charitable donations? I’ve often wondered about that. Am I more likely to donate if I get a tax deduction? no, but I’ll claim the deduction if it’s offered. Maybe that’s not the same for everyone.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Maybe thats not the same for everyone.

I think that is a safe conclusion.

charities in Australia are so stupidly regulated

If you are referring to the relevant legislation, ie what is one, I disagree. It would be easy to set up this system with other common law countries, who all share essentially similar concepts of what is charitable (derived from the same Elizabethan statute, still, I believe, in force). But nothing has been done about it that I know of.

Angharad
Angharad
13 years ago

You are right about derived relevance from that Elizabethan statute. Sadly it doesn’t work all that well and there are lots of gaps and unresolved issues as a result. In 2001 an Inquiry into the definition of Charities was set up by Treasurer Costello. Recommendations from that inquiry were never acted upon. So you are right, nothing has been done about it, but not from lack of trying from the charitable sector and its advocates.

rdb
rdb
13 years ago

The list of charities that didn’t apply to be evaluated by the Give Well charity
was ~48 long, including the US instances of Oxfam & Medicin Sans Frontiers and the Global AIDS charity.
From the website, Give Well’s two full time staff are recent graduates (2003,4)
with degrees in Social Studies & Religion and hedge fund backgrounds.

AmandA
13 years ago

My contribution to giving internationally is allowing myself to be fleeced blind by the wretched of the earth in the souks of Aswan and Luxor.

Merry Christmas.

Angharad
Angharad
13 years ago

Angharad, do you know if the issue I raise – the internationalisation of charitable status of if you like mutual recognition – was raised in the report and what was said?

Nicholas – I went back and had a quick look at the report. It doesn’t appear to be mentioned there. The focus is mostly domestic. And mostly it deals with definitions of various types of charity. There were a huge number of submissions as far as I can tell, all Australian.

I had a look at the Aust Council for Overseas Aid one which I expected could have something to say on your topic, but it appears to be primarily focused on how the definition of a charity is applied to Australian aid organisations operating overseas. There’s lots of problems for these organisations in the current regulatory environment.