project

Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project

Overview

The Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project conducts research on the regulatory frameworks that govern the nonprofit sector with the goals of (1) systematically documenting current frameworks across states, (2) deepening our understanding of how policies impact nonprofits, and (3) promoting the diffusion of best practices across states.


Project Contributors
Portrait of Alan

Alan Abramson

Professor; Director, Center on Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Social Enterprise

George Mason University

Portrait of Elizabeth

Elizabeth Boris

Institute Fellow

Urban Institute

Portrait of Teresa

Teresa Harrison

Professor

Drexel University

Portrait of Jesse

Jesse Lecy

Associate Professor, Data Scientist

ASU / Urban Institute

Portrait of Cindy

Cindy Lott

Clinical Professor of Philanthropic Studies

Indiana University

Portrait of Mary

Mary Shelly

Reference Law Librarian

UPenn Law

Portrait of George

George Mitchell

Associate Professor

Baruch College

Portrait of Mykelle

Mykelle Richburg

Policy Analyst

Urban Institute




Highlighted Resources


Report Lott et al. (2016): "State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector." Research Report, Urban Institute, Washington DC.
Research Brief Cindy M. Lott, Nathan Dietz & Marcus Gaddy (2018): "Bifurcation of State Regulation of Charities." Research Brief, Urban Institute, Washington DC.
Journal Article Sarah Pettijohn & Elizabeth Boris (2018): "Testing Nonprofit State Culture: Its Impact on the Health of the Nonprofit Sector." Nonprofit Policy Forum, vol. 9, no. 3, https://doi.org/10.1515/npf-2018-0012



Background and Support

This project brings together cross-disciplinary groups of scholars and experts to advance a framework for understanding of how regulation effects nonprofit organizations and philanthropy and empirical research on the topic. The work has been conducted in partnership with the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute (the current project home), the Tax Policy and Charities Project, Indiana University, the University of Pennsylvania's College of Law, Columbia University's School of Law, the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), and has been supported by several foundations.

Advisors:

Project History


  • 2006
    Regulatory Project is Launched
    Charities Regulation and Oversight Project started at Columbia University
  • 2013
    First Conference Held
    The Future of State Charities Regulation, Charities Regulation and Oversight Conference
    Part of the National State Attorneys General Program
  • 2015
    Urban Institute Adopts the Project
    The Regulation Project was founded at the Urban Institute as a more permanent home for the work.
  • 2015
    Second Major Conference
    Conference on "Data Collection, Sharing, and Transparency in the Tax-Exempt Sector"
  • 2016
    Legal Compendium Released
    The first "Legal Compendium to the Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project" was published
  • 2016
    Symposium Gathers Experts
    State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector
  • 2019
    Legal Compendium Updates
    "Version 2 of the "Legal Compendium to the Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project" was published
  • 2021
    Conference
    Data and Technology: Resources and Implications for Nonprofit Regulation and Oversight
  • 2024
    Symposium on State of the Field
    Conference titled "The Future of Nonprofit Regulation in the United States" held at the Urban Institute
  • 2024
    Legal Compendium Updates
    New updates to the Legal Compendium released

Phase One

With funding from the Mott Foundation, The Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy became the home for research on state nonprofit regulatory work that had previously been undertaken through The Charities Regulation and Oversight Project (“Charities Project”), part of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School under the leadership of Cindy M. Lott. In this first phase of the research, we focused on state attorneys’ general jurisdiction over the charitable sector but expanded the scope of the project to encompass the entire regulatory framework of the charitable sector, including all state and federal charities officials and jurisdiction.

Phase Two

In the second phase of the research, using State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector by Cindy M. Lott, Elizabeth T. Boris et. al., a report on the ground-breaking survey conducted for the project as the basis for discussion, we identified existing research, needs, and gaps. Using the data from that study and other sources, a major meeting was planned that resulted in reports, articles, and collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission on a regulatory conference.

Phase Three

In the third phase of the Project, portions of the Legal Compendium were updated and research was published in various fora, including two online briefs, Bifurcation of State Regulation of Charities: Divided Regulatory Authority Over Charities and Its Impact on Charitable Solicitation Law, and State Regulation of the Charitable Sector: Enforcement, Outreach and Staffing. Research was presented at major sector, regulatory, and legal education venues and blogs helped disseminate the work.

Phase Four

The most recent phase of the project is focusing on: 1) updating the entire Legal Compendium; 2) organizing a symposium for Spring 2024 as an overview of major current regulatory issues in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector and potential future changes; 3) and enhancing the Legal Compendium as a data source that will be integrated into two major sector data platforms. The Legal Compendium data will be combined with Legal Text Data compiled by Professor Teresa Harrison at Drexel University. The new dataset will be available via The National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS).



The Database

The Legal Compendium is a downloadable Excel spreadsheet with statutory citations showing the following information for each of the 56 jurisdictions featured in this research: the grant of jurisdiction to attorneys general and other state agencies, the registration and reporting requirements applicable to charitable entities and their fundraisers, the oversight responsibilities of state charity regulators in connection with certain transactions involving charitable entities, the obligations of charities to notify the attorney general of those transactions, and some enforcement remedies available to charity regulators.

Dataset Data Dictionary Research Guide Version History
Citing the Database

Cindy M. Lott, Elizabeth T. Boris, Karin Kunstler Goldman, Belinda Johns, Marcus Gaddy and Maura R. Farrell: "Legal Compendium to the Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project." Available on Harvard Dataverse: DOI. Updated 2024 (Version 4.0).





Past Events


2015: Data Collection, Sharing, and Transparency in the Tax-Exempt Sector

The goal of this convening was to discuss the ripple effect of regulatory changes regarding data collection, sharing, and transparency; discuss opportunities and challenges in the nonprofit sector due to these challenges; and explore inefficiencies and redundancies in data transfer that might be eliminated in the future among the sector’s stakeholders. {event page}

2016: State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector

Symposium in which participants discussed the report: State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector. This report is a primer and road map for all who wish to gain insight into the state regulatory structures that oversee the charitable and nonprofit sector, toward the goal of more effective and efficient charity regulation. Topics include: a summary and discussion of the report findings, the status of state charitable regulatory and enforcement activity, and next steps in formulating a research agenda. {event page}

2021: Data and Technology: Resources and Implications for Nonprofit Regulation and Oversight

The event focused on data and technologies state and federal charities regulators require to succeed in their oversight roles. Researchers, leaders from data-providing organizations, and state and federal charities regulators explored how to promote data-informed nonprofit regulation. {meeting agenda}


Select Publications


Framework Development

2013: Lott, Cindy M., Ed., Conference papers for The Future of State Charities Regulation, Charities Regulation and Oversight - papers available below.

2016: Lott, Cindy M., Elizabeth T. Boris, Karin Kunstler Goldman, Belinda J. Johns, Marcus Gaddy, and Maura Farrell. "State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector." Washington D.C.: The Urban Institute.

2017: Lott, Cindy M. and Marion Fremont-Smith. "State Regulatory and Legal Framework." In Nonprofits and Government: Collaboration and Conflict (Elizabeth T. Boris & C. Eugene Steuerle Eds.), Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, 163-190.

2017: Boris, Elizabeth T. and Cindy M. Lott. “Reflections on Challenged Regulators.” In Regulating Charities: The Inside Story. Edited by M. McGregor-Lowndes and R. Wyatt. New York, NY: Routledge.


Applications of the Framework

2016: Cindy M. Lott, Elizabeth T. Boris, Karin Kunstler Goldman, Belinda Johns, Marcus Gaddy and Maura R. Farrell. "State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector."

2017: Dietz, Nathan, Cindy M. Lott, Putnam Barber, and Mary Shelly. "State Charitable Solicitations Registration Regulations and Fundraising Performance: Theoretical Considerations and Preliminary Results." Nonprofit Policy Forum, 8(2), 183-204.

2017: Sarah L. Pettijohn and Elizabeth T. Boris. State Nonprofit Culture: Assessing the Impact of State Regulation on the Government-Nonprofit Relationship (Presentation).

2017: Nathan Dietz, Putnam Barber, Cindy M. Lott, and Mary Shelly. "Exploring the Relationship between State Charitable Solicitation Regulations and Fundraising Performance."

2017: Cindy M. Lott and Marion Fremont-Smith. "State Regulatory and Legal Framework." Chapter 5 from Nonprofits and Government: Collaboration and Conflict, 3rd Edition

2018: Lott, Cindy M., Mary L. Shelly, Nathan Dietz, and Marcus Gaddy. "Bifurcation of State Regulation of Charities: Divided Regulatory Authority Over Charities and its Impact on Charitable Solicitation Laws." Washington, DC: Urban Institute: https://www.urban.org/research/publication/bifurcationstate-regulation-charities.

2018: Shirley Adelstein and Elizabeth T. Boris. "State Regulation of the Charitable Sector: Enforcement, Outreach, Structure, and Staffing."

2018: Adelstein, Shirley, and Elizabeth T. Boris. “Why Do Some States Enforce Charity Regulations More than Others?” Urban Wire, June 18, 2018. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/why-do-some-states-enforce-charityregulations-more-others.

2018: Sarah L. Pettijohn and Elizabeth T. Boris. "Testing nonprofit state culture: Its impact on the health of the nonprofit sector." In Nonprofit Policy Forum (Vol. 9, No. 3, p. 20180012). De Gruyter.

2019: Cindy, M. Lott, Mary Shelly and Nathan Dietz. Regulatory Breadth Index: A New Measurement of State-Level Charity Regulation (Presentation).

2023: Bushouse, B. K., Schweik, C. M., Siddiki, S., Rice, D., & Wolfson, I. The institutional grammar: A method for coding institutions and its potential for advancing third sector research. Voluntas, 34(1), 76-83. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-021-00423-w

2023: Mitchell, George E. Three Models of US State-Level Charity Regulation. Nonprofit Policy Forum, 15(1), 2023, 1-25, https://doi.org/10.1515/npf-2022-0051.


Charity Regulation and Oversight Conference: February 26, 2013

Lott, Cindy M., Ed., Conference Papers for The Future of State Charities Regulation, Charities Regulation and Oversight Project, National State Attorneys General Program. Published online, Columbia University’s Academic Commons, New York.

Marcus S. Owens (2013): "Charity Oversight: An Alternative Approach." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8154F1D

Marion R. Fremont-Smith (2013): "The Future of State Regulation of Charities." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D82R3PQ2

Douglas M. Mancino (2013): "The Affordable Care Act and State Charities Regulators." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8J38QG1

Mark E. Chopko (2013): "Some Thoughts About Regulating Religious Charity." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8DB7ZSR

Mary Beckman, Eric Carriker (2013): "State Charities Regulation In A Dynamic Health Care Market." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8ZC80T9

Rick Cohen (2013): "A New Ethic of Transparency in Charities: The Shared Goal of Journalists and State Regulators." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8WD3XJQ

George Jepsen (2013): "The Role of State Charities Regulators in Protecting Public Trust in Charitable Responses to Disaster." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8251G5S

Linda Sugin (2013): "Improving Charity Governance with Advance Rulings." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8MW2F32

Putnam Barber (2013): "The Official Word: What State Charities Webpages Tell The Public." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8348H9M

Dana Brakman Reiser (2013): "Regulating Social Enterprise." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8TM7830

Karin Kunstler-Goldman; Belinda Johns (2013): "Evolving State Regulation: From Index Cards To The Internet." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8NV9G6F

WIlliam P. Marshall (2013): "Government Regulation of Religious Organizations: The Example of Religious Fraud." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D88P5XGR

Robert A. Wexler (2013): "Attorney General Regulation of Hybrid Entities as Charitable Trusts." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8Z03661

Hugh R. Jones (2013): "The Importance of Transparency in the Governmental Regulation of the Nonprofit Sector: Room for Improvement?" The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D86H4FG7

Frances R. Hill (2013): "Exempt Entities as Government Contractors: Regulation Through Cooperative Federalism." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8FB50W2

Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer (2013): "Limits On State Regulation Of Religious Organizations: Where We Are And Where We Are Going." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D84X55SV

David Edward Spenard (2013): "Crashing The Party: A State Regulator’s Observations and Suggestions Regarding The Near-Term Supervision of The Simultaneous Pursuit of Margin And Mission." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8RN35TC

James J. Fishman (2013): "Strange Silence: Attorneys General Reaction to The Internal Revenue Service’s Corporate Governance Initiative." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8K35RMD

Tim Delaney (2013): "Advocacy by Charitable Nonprofits: Flipping The Accountability Lens To Focus On Government Actions." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8PV6HBT

Scott Harshbarger (2013): "The Case For A Renewal Of Civic Capitalism In The Independent Sector." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D85X26WS

James J. Fishman (2013): "Strange Silence: Attorneys General Reaction to The Internal Revenue Service’s Corporate Governance Initiative." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8K35RMD

Scott Harshbarger (2013): "The Case For A Renewal Of Civic Capitalism In The Independent Sector." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D85X26WS

Elizabeth M. Grant (2013): "Hybrid Enterprises and the Application of State Charitable Regulatory Principles as a Guide Toward an Effective Regulatory Framework." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8SN06X9

Anthony Johnstone (2013): "Politics and The Public Benefit Corporation." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D8XD0ZNN

Karen Gano (2013): "The Fundamental Role of The States In Governance Issues." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D89K4866

Robert Cooper (2013): "Deaccessioning and Donor Intent – Lessons Learned from Fisk’s Stieglitz Collection." The Future of State Charities Regulation Conference, Columbia University Law School, NY. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7916/D86T0JMV




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