State Regulation Enforcement

State Regulation Enforcement

State regulation and enforcement in the charitable sector is the subject of a research report recently completed by the Charities Regulation and Oversight Project at Columbia Law School and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. This study is the first analysis of state-level oversight and regulation of nonprofits in the United States.  For the entire report see:

Three Component Analysis

The study has three components.  The first component is a legal analysis of state/jurisdictions laws pertaining to charities.  The second component is a survey of all state and territory officers with oversight, regulator, and enforcement authority.  The third component consists of information from interviews with state officials. This post will be the first in a four-part series related to the study and will cover information from the Executive Summary’s major findings. The following three posts will provide information from each of the three component sections.

Major Findings

A partial list of the major findings:

  • No single state law of charities oversight exists – instead oversight involves a complex mix of offices, divisions, agencies, and authorities.
  • Organization and staffing of state charity offices varies greatly across the country; in 41% of the states one office has primary responsibility, but in 59% of the states responsibility is shared with other agencies or offices.
  • In 21 states registration oversight lies within the state attorneys’ general offices; in 15 states the responsibility lies with the secretary of state offices, and in 8 states “other” state offices house registration compliance.
  • In the 47 responding jurisdictions, 68% require professional charity fundraisers to register and 60% require charities to register.
  • 22 states require audited financial statements based on certain revenue thresholds.
  • Charity reported fundraising methods include 82% telephone, 80% direct mail, 80% special events, 80% in-person solicitations, followed closely by 76% internet based and 70% social media.

This truly is groundbreaking nation-wide research and provides a road map to better understand state charity regulatory oversight across the nation. Watch for part two of this four-part series which will focus on the state laws pertaining to the charitable sector, with an emphasis on charitable solicitation laws.

Happy 2017!

More to come in 2017 – Happy New Year to all – and best wishes for successful fundraising in supporting your favorite nonprofit’s charitable purposes.