Grantmakers without Borders – The cost of the war on terror to the US non-profit sector

Grantmakers Without Borders and OMB Watch recently released a white paper that comprehensively documents the impact that the ‘war on terror’ is having on US charities and foundations. Collateral Damage: How the war on terror hurts charities, foundations, and the people they serve makes clear that shortsighted, undemocratic policies are constraining the critical activities of the charitable and philanthropic sectors, stifling free speech, and ultimately impeding the fight against terrorism.

As Vanessa Dick, Advocacy Coordinator at Grantmakers Without Borders, remarks: ‘Instead of focusing on reducing or eliminating poverty, inequality, oppression, strife, and other root causes of terrorism, the government has lobbed unfounded accusations at the non-profit sector and has inaccurately claimed that charities are a significant source of terrorist funding.’

Among the issues covered in the paper, the authors assert that current counter-terrorism policies are based on a flawed legal regime and broad, vague definitions; the policies rely on flawed assumptions about terrorism and non-profits; and the policies are abused by the government as a pretext for engaging in unconstitutional, political use of surveillance powers. The authors provide a number of recommendations for how the government can effectively combat terrorism while also protecting the ability of the non-profit sector to carry out its crucial work throughout the world.

‘In order to preserve the rights of all nonprofit organizations, and, indeed, the rights of all people,’ says Kay Guinane, Director of Nonprofit Speech Rights at OMB Watch, ‘all levels of government must conduct their counterterrorism activities in a way that consistently protects liberty and civil society. Otherwise, Americans and others lose safeguards that were designed to protect us all from creeping tyranny.’

For more information
The full text of the white paper is available online at

Grantmakers Without Borders
Executive Director: John Harvey
T +1 617 794 2253

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