Interview with the group’s Senior Director of Development Rokas Beresniovas.
Rokas Beresniovas is the Senior Director of Development, Marketing, and Communications at Charities Aid Foundation – America. Headquartered in Alexandria, VA, CAF America bridges the gap between donors and beneficiaries. The organization has a presence in six continents and ensures that philanthropists both institutional and individual experience a hassle-free and effective transition of funds within the US as well as abroad. With experience spanning more than two decades, the organization has been managing charitable funds to the tune of more than $4 billion.
Prior to joining CAF America, the Lithuania-born Beresniovas was a Vice President at the State Bank of India California in Washington, DC. He is a winner of the 2016 SmartCEO Washington DC Executive Management Award and was a finalist for the 2015 SmartCEO Washington DC Money Manager Award.
He has also served on the boards of a number of community organizations, including the Georgetown Business Association (GBA), Kids 4 Peace International and End Violence Against Women International.
In a freewheeling interview with the American Bazaar, Beresniovas talks about the organization’s endeavors for a clean and effectual philanthropic environment, globally, and, its plans to start diaspora funds.
Tell us about CAF America’s activities in India and South Asia.
CAF America operates globally by supporting organizations that address immediate social needs through charitable giving, as well as maintaining connections between global communities. Our work in India and South Asia is no different and, by utilizing our services, donors are able to support a variety of great causes throughout the region ranging from food distribution to literacy training to environmental concerns, and many more. Additionally, our Global Alliance partner, CAF India, operates extensively within the country and works with a number of organizations on the ground.
For individual philanthropists and small organizations, what are the advantages of working with CAF America?
There are several advantages to working with a mid-size organization like CAF America. We are a proven leader in international giving with 25 years of experience in the field and counting. This allows our clients to give confidently, knowing their interests guide what we do on a day-to-day basis. In choosing to pursue philanthropic initiatives through CAF America, our clients are relieved of the administrative burdens of grantmaking while still being able to support the causes and issues that matter to them around the globe while still receiving a US tax-deduction that also benefits their growth and profitability in the US.
Our trusted expertise also allows us to explore creative solutions tailored to our clients should the need arise, including aligning charitable donations with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in support of the SDG Philanthropy Platform, of which we are a partner along with other industry leaders such as the Hilton, Rockefeller, Ford, and MasterCard Foundations.
CAF America recently started a diaspora fund for Bangladesh. Tell us more about it.
The Diaspora Gives Bangladesh (DGB) is a recent philanthropic initiative of CAF America’s that is designed to engage with the Bangladesh diaspora and provide them with an easy, safe, and effective model to give back to Bangladesh with funds earned abroad.
DGB is a partnership led by CAF America with USAID and Chevron as instrumental partners. By providing a solution for international, tax-effective giving, DGB enables members of the diaspora to give in a concerted manner to support a variety of causes and geographic areas.
Diaspora communities possess a significant amount of financial and human capital while often having considerable interest in giving back to their home countries to address economic and social challenges. DGB’s objective is to empower the Bangladeshi diaspora to tax-effectively channel philanthropic capital to their country of origin in ways that are beneficial for community and country-wide sustainable development.
Are you considering similar funds targeting other diaspora groups, including Indian Americans?
CAF America is indeed considering opening similar funds focused toward other diaspora populations. Bangladesh is our inaugural initiative, but through diligent monitoring and research we expect to be able to identify a number of suitable diaspora communities residing in North America with which we hope to engage.
You are transitioning from banking to philanthropy and development. How big of a challenge is that?
Philanthropy and NGO’s both require considerable due diligence to ensure that the client’s financial capital is used for its intended purpose. This requires adhering to regulations, such as anti-money laundering rules, as well as taking care to mitigate risk and protect the client’s reputation. The difference with international development is that the financial investment also help donors to give back internationally to vetted charities around the world, which is a rewarding way to help direct investments.