How We Work

The Basics

CAF America is a global grantmaking organization assisting corporations, foundations, and individuals. We streamline the grantmaking process to eliminate risk and administrative burden. 

US donors cannot give directly to foreign charitable organizations and obtain a tax deduction. As a US public charity, CAF America is able to accept funds from US donors who can then recommend that CAF America use those funds to support foreign charitable organizations or projects. We enable donors to support the causes they care about by assisting them in making strategic, effective, and tax-advantaged grants internationally and domestically.

International giving can be complex. With CAF America, it doesn't have to be. CAF America and its subsidiaries have given more than $3.8 billion in charitable donations to organizations in over 135 countries around the world.

CAF America Advisory and Grants Management Services

CAF America provides end-to-end back office administration support services for a growing number of our major donors. Whether you are looking to simply identify beneficiaries that align with your mission or you are rolling out an entire grants program, CAF America can provide assistance.

Our Grants Management Services include: 

  • Partner or Charity Identification
  • Consolidated Grant and Eligibility Applications
  • Proposal Design and RFP Management
  • Preliminary Application Reviews


The Process

We understand that effective philanthropy begins with a clear vision and a focused plan for making that vision a reality. We also realize that not all donors are alike. Therefore, in order to best serve your specific philanthropic goals, we encourage you to contact us directly to discuss a tailored solution that works for you.

CAF America has customized solutions for

Donors contact CAF America to
  • Give to a specific charitable organization
  • Discuss their philanthropic vision
  • Explore the solutions for a specific giving program
CAF America
  • Conducts due diligence reviews
  • Provides advice on strategy development
  • Identifies validated organizations that match a donor’s philanthropic goals
  • Make a single tax-effective gift to CAF America, or
  • Establish a fund for ongoing giving
CAF America
  • Makes grants to eligible charitable organizations
  • Monitors use of funds
CAF America
  • Manages the annual grantee reporting


CAF America Values, Principles, and Practices

The connection CAF America shares with people around the world through our services is a privilege. We understand that our success as an organization rests on holding ourselves to the highest standards.

  • We are Committed to the Three Rs: Regulation Compliance, Risk Mitigation, and Reputation Protection
  • We Build Donor Trust through Service and Innovation
  • We are Dedicated to Teamwork through Diversity and Inclusion
  • We Cultivate Experts in Philanthropy and Compliance
  • We Give Back

To read the full document outlining CAF America Values, Principles, and Practices, please click here.


The Details: Frequently Asked Questions

Are donations tax deductible?
As a US 501(c)(3) public charity, gifts to CAF America are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Since US donors are not able to make tax deductible gifts directly to foreign organizations, many use CAF America to fulfill their global giving objectives while still obtaining a tax advantage.
What are acceptable assets that CAF America can accept?
CAF America currently accepts checks, wire transfers, credit cards, and stocks. In addition, CAF America can partner with other US public charities to help donors liquidate high-value tangible gifts such as artwork, property, or any other illiquid asset, and grant the proceeds to a foreign organization of their recommendation. Donors may also name CAF America as the beneficiary of an IRA.
How much does it cost to work with CAF America?
Administrative costs vary based on the type of service provided, the amount of the gift, and if any additional support has been requested.
How does CAF America ensure that donations made to suggested foreign charitable organizations are safe?
CAF America makes grants only to foreign charitable organizations outside the United States which operate for charitable purposes as defined under US law. In order to ensure that each organization is organized and operated for charitable purposes as those terms are understood under US law, each potential grantee is asked to complete an eligibility application and submit detailed supporting documents. The organization and related entities are checked against all government web-based watch lists of banned entities and individuals. CAF America complies with all US laws including:

  • the PATRIOT Act,
  • Executive Order 13224,
  • HR4 (the Pension Protection Act),
  • the US Treasury Department Voluntary Guidelines for International Grantmaking
  • the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

CAF America meets all the stringent requirements relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. CAF America has in place robust procedures and protocols for conducting due diligence on donors, fund holders and grantees. CAF America processes include Political Exposed Person (PEP) screening, AML monitoring, and watch list scanning against 450 + databases that correlate with every known sanction and embargo list from around the world. CAF America’s policy is to take all the reasonable steps to “Know Our Customers” to prevent fraud, corruption, bribery, and money laundering.

We help define best practices in grant making through the Council on Foundations US International Grantmakers Group (USIG). Our Grants Administration Protocol exceeds the minimum standard set by the Internal Revenue Service for public charity due diligence in grantmaking; and we received a “clean bill of health” for compliance with the Internal Revenue Service Policy on Terrorism.

CAF America reviews its grants administration protocol regularly to ensure the highest level of compliance with best practices in grantmaking.

What is your policy on terrorist financing?
CAF America's policy is to make grants to organizations exclusively in furtherance of charitable purposes, as defined by the US Internal Revenue Code. Accordingly, CAF America checks the charitable status of each recommended grant recipient together with a thorough review of governance, finances, and activities. In addition, CAF America monitors watch-lists and other releases from US and international government and financial agencies regarding organizations suspected of supporting terrorist activities. If CAF America is unable to verify the charitable status of an organization or if an organization, its members, or associates are suspected of supporting terrorism, CAF America will not approve a grant to that charity.
What does the CAF America due diligence process entail?
At CAF America, we go beyond the legal minimum to comply with due diligence on foreign charitable organizations. Checking lists and obtaining documentation is only one part of our process. We often undertake independent local verification via the CAF Alliance, review international news reports about our grantees each week, and will conduct pre-grant site visits (if requested and paid for by the donor). All grantees are required to submit a grant report to CAF America at the end of each of our fiscal years.CAF America applies a risk-based approach to grantmaking. This means we assess a foreign organization against a number of ‘risk’ factors which include geographical location, length of establishment, length of relationship with CAF America, and whether CAF America can obtain independent verification of an organization’s mission and activities, among other factors. CAF America’s grants administration combines both equivalency review and tests of expenditure responsibility into our process to ensure safe grantmaking.
How does an organization become eligible to receive grants from CAF America?
When CAF America receives a grant suggestion for an organization that is not yet eligible with us, we contact the charity directly. Organizations also may contact CAF America without a pending grant suggestion. Charities can be located anywhere in the world except in countries embargoed by the US Government or by OFAC.All organizations must apply for eligibility by completing an eligibility application and submit supporting documents, such as proof of nonprofit status in their country of residence, and financial and governing documents.The eligibility review process usually takes from 4-6 weeks once CAF America receives a complete application and all supporting documents. If approved, organizations are listed in our searchable, online database. Eligibility periods can last from 1 year to 3 years, depending on the organization and the country in which it is located.
What happens if the organization that has been suggested for a grant is not approved?
We will ask the donor to suggest another organization, or if you prefer, we can suggest a similar charity working in the same field or region. We will also provide an explanation as to why we are unable to make the grant.All gifts to CAF America are irrevocable. Control and discretion over the use of funds must remain with CAF America’s Board of Directors if our donors are to receive tax benefits. CAF America may reject a grant suggestion if the foreign organization is unable to successfully complete our eligibility application process or there appears to be money laundering, terrorist financing, or other risk concerns.
How can I expect a decision to be made on a suggested gift?
A grant to a suggested organization can only be considered once the charity has completed and returned an eligibility application form along with appropriate organizing documents and has been determined eligible to receive grants by CAF America staff and the Board President.CAF America’s assessment process is very rigorous to ensure both the fulfillment of our mission and the tax-effectiveness of gifts. Grant suggestions for eligible organizations are considered by CAF America’s Board of Directors on a weekly basis.
What should a charitable organization expect once a grant suggestion has been made?
Once our Board approves a grant suggestion, the grant will be sent directly to the charity by wire transfer. A letter outlining the terms of the grant, and acknowledging the donor (if applicable), will be sent to the organization.
How do I know if the organization I suggested has gotten the money?
By default, all of our grants are made via wire transfer so that we may immediately verify receipt of funds. Donors and advisors to funds may check the online donor portal at any time to check on the status of a grant.