FCRA amendments problematic for Gospel workers

By October 9, 2020

India (MNN) — India’s newest legislation presents a severe problem for nonprofits and ministries. Amendments to India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act passed last week are being implemented right away.

“A lot of the organizations are scrambling, wondering whether they’re going to be able to meet salaries, payroll, some of the program expenses, things like that,” Bibles For The World President John Pudaite says.

The amendments add to existing pressure from FCRA. Enacted ten years ago, FCRA regulates how nonprofits in India can receive foreign funding. Since its implementation, “nearly 20,000 nonprofit organizations have had their registration under the FCRA canceled, and there are several others under review,” Pudaite says.

“It’s quite a shame because a lot of charitable work in India has been basically ‘snuffed out’ by the actions of this current government.”

Last year, 22,447 non-government organizations (NGOs) registered under the FCRA, and nearly 98 percent complied with filing requirements.

A challenging chokehold

Previously, nonprofits receiving foreign funding under FCRA needed to create a bank account at any government-approved bank. Under the amended FCRA, all nonprofits must create and solely use a new account with the State Bank of India at New Delhi.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; caption courtesy of Council on Foundations)

Some confusion surrounds the application of these new amendments and how they will affect nonprofits. “I know that several organizations are planning to join together and appeal this amendment,” Pudaite says. “[They are] asking for relaxation and clarification on the meaning of some of the clauses in the act.”

One requirement is painstakingly clear.

“All registered nonprofit organizations will be required to open a bank account in New Delhi, the nation’s capital and all foreign funds must be channeled into the country through that bank account,” Pudaite explains.

“This alone is a tremendous hardship. Only nine percent of the charitable organizations in India are based in or around New Delhi, whereas 91% of them are in other states – some as far as 1,000 to 1,500 miles away.”

How to help

Pray for believers who rely on foreign support to continue Gospel work in India. Pray for leaders as they discern what these new laws mean for their ministry.

“We also need to pray for all of those who are in the programs assisted through charitable contributions, especially those sent by international Christian organizations, that they may be strong through this time. Some of them have a few reserves, a little bit of a buffer there, but others are functioning on a month-to-month basis,” Pudaite says.

“Pray that they will come together, support each other, and find creative, innovative ways to continue their work that God has called them to.”



Header image depicts a statue of Lady Justice. Since the 16th century, Lady Justice has often been depicted wearing a blindfold. The blindfold represents impartiality, the ideal that justice should be applied without regard to wealth, power, or other status. (Photo courtesy of Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash