Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Last week, the National Association of State Charities Officials held their annual conference on the impact of technology on charities regulation. It will be interesting to see if any new initiatives come out of this conference, but I hear a lot of interest in regulating crowdfunding and other forms of online charitable giving. To be sure, existing laws have not kept up with technology, new charitable behavior, or even constitutional law. Currently, some states regulate solicitation by telegraph but not social media or online platforms; as Hopkins & Kilpatrick (2013, p.74) note, states actively enforce laws that have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court; and, as Fishman (2015) points out, most charitable registration forms sit unread and laws sit unenforced, imposing a compliance cost on charities without any clear law enforcement benefit. I hope before reflexively rushing into regulate a new area of charitable activity like crowdfunding, states pause to consider the costs of new regulations and look a bit harder at cleaning up what is already on the books.