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The Accountability of Armenian Organizations to Armenians. By Ted Tourian. Importance of Organizations to the Diaspora. Organizations foster discourse on national identity, culture, consciousness, and loyalty amongst the Armenian Diaspora

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importance of organizations to the diaspora
Importance of Organizations to the Diaspora
  • Organizations foster discourse on national identity, culture, consciousness, and loyalty amongst the Armenian Diaspora
  • It is impossible for an ethnic community to be considered a Diaspora if the internal drive and need for self-definition but no organizational forms for the maintenance of its uniqueness exist
legal accountability
Legal Accountability
  • The legal accountability of any organization must be separated into two components:
    • Duties that an organization’s board of directors and officers owe to the organization they represent;
    • Duties those organizations owe to their constituents.
legal accountability1
Legal Accountability
  • Director Duties to an Organization
  • Duty of Care
    • Must act in "good faith" using the "degree of diligence, care and skill" which prudent people would use in similar positions and under similar circumstances.
  • Duty of Loyalty
    • Must examine transactions that involve board members or officers. i.e. No self-dealing
legal accountability2
Legal Accountability
  • Duties those organizations owe to their constituents
    • Very rare cases
    • I.e. Priv. Ltr. Rul. 200818023, (Feb. 6, 2008)
    • Non-profit organization lost tax-exempt status
    • The nonprofit spent less than one-half of 1% of total revenues on charitable programs and only 3% of total expenses were used for charity during a one-year period.
moral accountability
Moral Accountability
  • The problem is that morality, much like language, is deconstructable.
  • i.e. Melkonian Educational Institute and AGBU
      • AGBU mission statement: To preserve and promote the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs
  • Result – MEI was closed down
  • Who was right?
  • Does it matter – Mission statement can apply to both arguments
need for more organizations
Need for More Organizations
  • Only way for Armenian organizations to be accountable to Armenians is through competition – i.e. creation of more organizations
  • a) More organizations are not necessarily a bad thing
  • b) More organizations will help communication between the Diaspora and Republic
  • c) More organizations can take advantage of limited resources
  • d) More organizations create opportunities for involvement
more organizations are not necessarily a bad thing
More organizations are not necessarily a bad thing
  • Example of Jewish, Turkish and Armenian Diasporas and their charitable organizations
more organizations will help communication between the diaspora and republic
More Organizations will help communication between the Diaspora and Republic
  • There is no single Jewish World that can be recreated – instead, there are many different Jewish worlds organized in a variety of institutional and organizational forms. There is the Government of Israel; there are NGO’s, social service organizations, Federations, social justice and advocacy organizations, synagogues, schools, JCCs and many others. There are philanthropic and political organizations as well as foundations with a diversity of missions. Each works for its own constituency and supporters or would not exist. In free societies it is the marketplace, the process of creative destruction, that decides when an organization succeeds or when it goes out of business.

While this may seem disorganized, confusing and often frustrating, this diversity and multiplicity of organizations may be one of the most important strengths of what we call the Jewish World. In other words there is no one person or group of people that can recreate THE Jewish World… creating the World was and is God’s job.

  • By Richard Pearlstone, member of the prominent philanthropic Meyerhoff family and chair of the Jewish Agency's board of governors
more organizations will help communication between the diaspora and republic1
More Organizations will help communication between the Diaspora and Republic
  • Comparison between conventional and non-conventional Armenian organizations
  • Conventional Organizations
    • AGBU in Armenia – agrees with Protocols, risks alienating Diaspora
    • ARF – History of Political Mistrust
  • Non-Conventional
    • Armenian Technology Group – only deals with Armenia's Ministry of Food and Agriculture
more organizations can take advantage of limited resources
More Organizations can take advantage of limited resources
  • More organizations can take advantage of tax lobbying rules
  • More organizations can better influence Congress
  • It is no secret that Congress (both the House of Representatives and the Senate) are influenced by special interest groups, and the more special interest groups that exist supporting a Diaspora will only further influence Congress.
more organizations can take advantage of limited resources1
More Organizations can take advantage of limited resources
  • The Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (TALDF) the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA)
    • Examples of two organizations with similar board members, but not affiliated to avoid political lobbying restraints imposed on charitable organizations
  • Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA); American Turkish Council (ATC)
    • Example of more Turkish advocacy groups with overlapping an differing Congressional goals
  • Federation of Turkish American Associations (FTAA)
    • Example of a Turkish organization whose board members consist of members from 20+ Turkish charitable organizations
more organizations can take advantage of limited resources2
More Organizations can take advantage of limited resources
  • Armenian National Committee
    • Recent false allegations of violating charitable tax rules/
    • “It is more than curious that its [CREW’s] baseless attacks were made just prior to renewed efforts by the ANCA to advance Congressional and Presidential acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.”
    • Small organizations more susceptible to attack by legal attacks that could derail Armenian political advocacy
  • Armenian Assembly of America (AAA) & the Armenian Tree Project (ATP)
    • ATP should be an IRC 501(c)(3) org but is not because of affiliation with AAA
    • Poor planning prevents more donations
more organizations create opportunities for involvement
More Organizations create Opportunities for Involvement
  • More organizations leads to more opportunities
  • More opportunities = more chance to be involved
  • Involvement breeds Commitment
  • Therefore, more organizations lead to greater chance of commitment to the Armenian cause.