CAF in the UK

Alliance magazine

The origins of CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation, date back to 1924; since 1974 it has been an independent charity registered in the UK. CAF’s mission is simple yet far-reaching:to increase the flow of resources from donors to charities and non-profit organizations (NPOs) across the world.

In the UK, CAF provides a range of information, consultancy and money management services for individual and corporate donors and for charitable organizations. It now handles funds of over £600 million (US$1 billion) for more than 300,000 donors and several thousand charities. In 1996–97 it distributed over £150 million ($240 million) to charities and charitable causes inside and outside Britain. CAF’s other activities include commissioning research, producing publications, organizing conferences,  hosting an Internet site (CharityNet) and lobbying governments to improve the fiscal and legal environment in which charities operate.

CAF internationally

Since the late 1980s CAF has been active in many different countries, both on its own and in partnership with others. CAF’s international objectives are wide-ranging:

  • to facilitate the flow of philanthropic funds, both across borders and within countries;
  • to develop and enhance the capabilities of indigenous NPOs;
  • to provide effective money management services for charities and NPOs.

In Europe, CAF was a founder member of the European Foundation Centre (in Brussels) and it has been particularly involved in programmes designed to build and strengthen the structure of the non-profit sector in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Since 1991 CAF has been administering the Charity Know How Fund,  financed jointly by the British government and a group of British trusts, which has supported a wide range of collaborative projects in over 20 CEE countries. CAF has also carried out a number of programmes over the years for the European Union in Russia and other CEE countries, as well as working with several major US foundations in the region.

CAF’s first overseas offices

In 1993 CAF established its first overseas offices, in Moscow and New York. CAF Russia, which now employs 15 staff, carries out many different activities, including research on the non-profit sector, legal consultations for NPOs, running training courses and seminars, and helping foundations and companies with their philanthropic programmes. It has commissioned over 30 publications, in Russian and English.

The objective of CAFAmerica,  a 501 (c) (3) charity registered in the USA, is to make it easier for US individuals and corporations to make tax-effective donations to charitable causes outside the USA and to help charities and NPOs outside the country that wish to raise funds in the USA. The Board of CAFAmerica has recently appointed a new Chief Executive, Tom Walker. His priority will be to work with major international companies, US foundations and other institutions that wish to develop and strengthen cross-border philanthropic programmes.

CAF Europe was set up in Brussels in 1996. Its broad objectives are to strengthen CAF’s relationships with the European Commission and other key institutions in Brussels and elsewhere and to develop Europe-wide services in conjunction with foundations, NPOs and companies. The first large cooperative project for the new office is the administration of a European grant-making programme for children’s health, on behalf of the US corporation Johnson & Johnson.

New developments

CAF is constantly seeking to expand and develop its international services, both in countries in which it already operates and in new countries — provided there is clear evidence of the need for new financial and charitable services, thus giving CAF the opportunity to fulfil its mission of increasing the flow of resources to the non-profit sector. Important new developments for CAF internationally in 1997 included a health voucher campaign in Bulgaria (run through CAF’s associate in Bulgaria, Bulgarian CAF), the Kluwer Law International–CAF publishing alliance (both described overleaf), and the appointment of CAF Representatives in South Africa and India.

The Representatives will have the task, following on from detailed feasibility studies in the two countries, of investigating the scope for offering specific CAF services and products in South Africa and India. They will also be considering what partners may be most appropriate for CAF in these countries and what types of structure may best ensure that CAF can fulfil its mission and make significant contributions to the non-profit sectors in two new continents in the years ahead.

A unique publishing programme for the international funding community

CAF and Kluwer Law International (KLI) are launching a unique series of publications addressing transnational issues for the benefit of the worldwide funding community. Alliance is just one part of this programme, which also includes:

International Charitable Giving A looseleaf publiction providing ever-expanding and regularly updated information on legal and fiscal issues relating to non-profit organizations and charitable giving. In March 1998 chapters on Russia, India, South Africa, Hungary and Poland will be added.

Working with the Non-Profit Sector in  . . . A series of country looseleafs providing comprehensive, in-depth and regularly updated information for funders and others working in the non-profit sector. The first countries covered will be Russia, India and South Africa.

Issues in International Funding A series of monographs that will examine controversial issues and challenge established views and practices. The first title will be Corporate Responsibility: Philanthropy, self-interest and bribery? by Delwin Roy, President of the Hitachi Foundation. The next will examine benchmarking and all the issues surrounding it.

Working with the Non-Profit Sector in Russia: A guide for companies, foundations and international agencies

The Russian volume, the first in the series, will be published in spring 1998. The book has been compiled by Paul LeGendre, CAF Russia’s Director of Publications. Contributions have come from different members of the CAF Russia team, which includes probably the foremost experts on non-profit law in Russia.

Finding a way through the system is hard enough for a Russian who is familiar with how things work; for a foreigner, unaided, it is almost impossible. In addition to providing a broad outline of the sector, how it works and where it gets its money from, and a detailed analysis of the legal and fiscal framework within which Russian non-profit organizations operate, this book takes readers through the legal and administrative maze, including:

  • registering an organization (where to go; what papers you need, etc)
  • opening an office (finding premises; paying fuel bills; getting a telephone; getting visas and work permits, etc)
  • working with the government


The Bulgarian crisis appeal

CAF has worked in Bulgaria since 1995 through Bulgarian CAF (BCAF); it has helped foundations there establish a mechanism for protecting their funds against inflation and in other ways supported local charities. In 1996–97 the country collapsed into economic and social crisis, with devastating consequences for the already impoverished people. An appeal by CAF to its 17,000 private donor clients produced £270,000 for Bulgarian charities working to help individual victims of the crisis. Further funds of £100,000 were actually raised inside Bulgaria by BCAF.

As the money was being raised, CAF developed a medical voucher scheme to allow access to life-saving medical treatment for those without the money to buy  drugs and other materials which hospitals themselves can no longer afford  The scheme involves partnerships between Bulgarian charities and hospitals, for example the Anti Cancer Foundation working with the National Oncology Hospital. The foundation checks that referred individuals meet agreed clinical and social criteria and monitors the performance of the hospital. The hospital provides the treatment indicated. Vouchers for the value of the drugs and other materials used are finally presented to BCAF, which arranges a donation to the hospital. Other partnerships focus on general hospitals for Roma people, hospitals for infant cardiac cases, especially from child care institutions, and hospitals offering general medical care. CAF is now arranging an evaluation and impact analysis of the scheme.


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Kerry Collins

Please can you send me a magazine


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