ICNL: Legal Advice for Nonprofits

For nonprofit organizations operating on a global stage, understanding the constraints of legalities across borders is paramount. One nonprofit, the International Center For Not-For-Profit Law, or ICNL, seeks to provide legal advice and information for such NGOs.

Launched in 1992, ICNL states that it is a “source for information in the legal environment,” with respect to civil society, philanthropy and public participation. The nonprofit provides legal information and advice to NGOs worldwide in an effort to facilitate adequate legal response and education.

ICNL maintains an active list of staff that hail from countries on multiple continents. In fact, the members on its Board of Directors hail from over 30 different countries.

As noted in its mission statement, the nonprofit seeks a legal environment that “strengthens civil society, advances the freedoms of association and assembly, fosters philanthropy and enables public participation around the world.”

The organization focuses on a number of objectives. According to its website, these include empowering local stakeholders, facilitating cross-border philanthropy, developing an analytic basis for its work and fostering global norms and multilateral engagement.

While ICNL does not provide legal service for NGOs in the U.S., it does work with a host of U.S. organizations, including NGOS, with civil society issues.

In addition, ICNL maintains relationships with several different organizations to “assist and implement” its international programs. These organizations include the European Center for Non-For-Profit Law (ECNL), the Bulgarian Center for Non-For-Profit Law (BCNL) and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, LLC. The latter is a limited liability company (LLC) that works with ICNL to undertake “activities to support programs consistent with ICNL’s mission around the world.”

Earlier this month, ICNL’s President and CEO Douglas Rutzen was named one of the U.S.’s top nonprofit executives and strategists by The NonProfit Times.

No doubt, navigating a world that is separated by borders with different rules and regulations makes for a tricky situation. Because of this, it is likely that ICNL’s work will continue to be of importance in the future.

Ethan Safran

Sources: ICNL, The Nonprofit Times
Photo: hkbutterfly