by Mark Jones

It is common for ministries to focus on impacting communities outside our U.S. borders. Often, in order to accomplish this, funds need to be moved across our borders to fund these ministry activities.

One area ministries need to be aware of when funding ministry internationally is compliance with U.S trade regulations. It seems strange to think that U.S. ministries have to worry about regulations from a counterterrorism agency. Yet, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is under the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Department of the Treasury, enforces sanctions on trade between U.S. organizations and foreign nationals and entities that could be viewed as unstable. All U.S. individuals and companies must comply with OFAC regulations. Non-compliance can result in penalties and fines as well as personal imprisonment.

So what does it take to comply with these regulations? Here are five steps to ensure your ministry follows these rules when sending funds internationally:

  1. Know the rules and regulations established by OFAC. You can learn about OFAC and its regulations from its website.
  2. Understand the risks identified by OFAC for charitable organizations in delivering aid and accomplishing ministry objectives internationally. A risk matrix has been developed by OFAC which describes higher risk factors that ministry organizations need to be aware of.
  3. Check individuals and entities that you are working with and sending funds to against OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list to ensure they are not prohibited from engagement.
  4. Refer to OFAC’s Country Sanctions which are red-flagged for having terrorism and drug trafficking ties. Know that it is okay to fund ministry activities in these countries when you receive an approved license to do so.
  5. Develop policies and procedures to comply with OFAC rules and regulations. Since the SDN list and Country Sanctions are being updated constantly, continual checking is required.
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