Introduction to Working with Intermediaries in International Grantmaking

Some grantmakers choose to channel international support through intermediary organizations. Giving through an intermediary is often the simplest way to fund internationally, especially for funders who want to realize tax benefits. Yet intermediaries may also provide other important advantages:

  • Staff expertise to help explore issues, identify beneficiaries, and screen projects.
  • Help in bridging linguistic and cultural differences.
  • Familiarity with social, political, and cultural contexts, including local risks and conflicts.
  • Access to relevant networks and organizations.
  • Savings in staff time or administrative expenses.
  • Local accounting and reporting infrastructure.
  • Knowledge of local laws and regulations. Effective intermediaries tend to be sensitive to the interests of funders and entrepreneurial about developing strategies that allow them to achieve their goals.

For example: In some cases, intermediaries become long-term, trusted collaborators. When a Boston-based family foundation wanted to give emergency aid to schools for women and girls in Afghanistan, its director sought help from an experienced intermediary: “I didn’t know anything about Afghanistan. We found out that an international intermediary, one of our regular partners, was doing an emergency drive there, so we contacted them and sent a check. We knew they’d be responsible with the money and creative about what it went for.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from International Grantmaking.