Saturday, May 21, 2022
Two recent news stories underline the importance of crowdfunding for supporting Ukraine and Ukrainians. The N.Y. Times reports that Ukrainian appeals to private individuals and companies have led to contributions of numerous items that have military applications, including drones, night vision scopes, body armor, rifles, and ammunition. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that the Ukrainian government is enhancing its crowdfunding efforts to keep support flowing even as the Russian invasion of Ukraine passes the three-month mark.
And even the incredibly busy IRS has taken the time to ease ways of supporting Ukraine. Notice 2022-28 provides guidance on how employers can adopt leave-based donation programs to aid citizens and residents or Ukraine, individuals presently in Ukraine, or refugees from Ukraine. Importantly it states:
Employer leave-based donation payments made by an employer before January 1, 2023, to section 170(c) organizations to aid victims of the further Russian invasion of Ukraine (qualified employer leave-based donation payments) will not be treated as gross income or wages (or compensation, as applicable) of the employees of the employer. Similarly, employees electing or with an opportunity to elect to forgo leave that funds the qualified employer leave-based donation payments will not be treated as having constructively received gross income or wages (or compensation, as applicable).
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Ukraine Donations Update: Billions of Dollars, Millions of Volunteers, Airbnb, Crypto, Tax Research Scholarships
- Candid is tracking the philanthropic response to the war in Ukraine, including reporting almost 600 grants totaling over $700 million and another 137 pledges worth over $660 million. It also reported on a survey from Fidelity Charitable that found a quarter of Americans have donated to support Ukraine.
- Global Citizen reports that the Stand Up for Ukraine event in Warsaw resulted in pledges totaling over $10 billion to support the millions who have had to flee their homes in Ukraine. This is in addition to numerous grassroots volunteer efforts, as detailed by Elizabeth Cullen Dunn (Indiana University) at The Conversation.
- Airbnb's much publicized efforts to help Ukrainian refugees have at times created frustrating situations for those refugees, according to a recent MarketWatch report.
- Crypto donations are also part of the effort, in part because Ukraine aid groups are actively seeking them according to this Chronicle of Philanthropy article (subscription required). The L.A. Times also reports that over $59 million in crypto assets have been received by the National Bank of Ukraine and other recipients that support the Ukrainian military.
- Tax Research Scholarships: Three European and international tax organizations (EATLP, IBFD, and IFA) have joined together to offer research grants to graduate students and others pursuing tax research that have had their careers disputed by the war in Ukraine. The deadline for applying for the the grants of up to EUR 3000 per month for up to one year is April 30, 2022.
Monday, March 14, 2022
Religion News Service (RNS) is today reporting that the war in Ukraine has split Russian Orthodox parishes across Europe, forcing believers outside Russia to either stay loyal to the church leadership in Moscow despite its support for the invasion, leave the church in protest or seek a messy middle ground.
Writing for today's edition of RNS, Tom Heneghan states:
While public opinion in Europe has almost unanimously denounced the war Russian President Vladimir Putin has unleashed, the small communities of Russian Orthodox faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate are in a bind because its head, Patriarch Kirill, has come out solidly in its favor.
Many of these believers are Western-born descendants of earlier emigres who have few links to today’s Russia but a faith anchored in the Russian tradition. Some belong to other Orthodox churches but happen to frequent a Russian church.
Meanwhile, in Paris, Metropolitan John of Dubna, Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe, in an open letter to Patriarch Kirill on March 9, struck a typical note by declaring solidarity with Ukraine and calling the war “monstrous and senseless.” While denouncing Kirill’s support of the war and asking for his intervention, Dubna stopped short of taking action that might signal a formal break.
Others stopped commemorating the patriarch in their liturgies -- an act which ranks as a serious protest in Orthodox churches -- but otherwise kept their dissent discreet. Only more attentive parishioners would notice at a Sunday service that the patriarch was not mentioned in normal commemorative prayers.
The Parish of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Amsterdam, where several hundred worshippers from about 20 nations attend weekly services in Dutch, Russian or English, has learned how complicated this choice can be. Probably the first Western Orthodox church to break ties with Moscow over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, St. Nicholas went from loyal criticism of Moscow’s decision to switching its allegiance to the rival Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.
“There are many traditions within Russian Orthodoxy,” Archimandrite Meletios Webber, head of the parish, told the congregation earlier today, Monday, March 14.
The London-born archimandrite — a monsignor in Roman Catholic terminology — spoke in a clipped English accent at his church near central Amsterdam. Another Orthodox priest translated his remarks into Russian.
“This tradition cannot be attached to any organization or any thought which promotes violence and warfare,” said Meletios, born an Anglican but converted during his studies at Oxford by the influential British Orthodox theologian, Bishop Kallistos Ware.
Heneghan tells the story leading to this announcement in lively and interesting detail:
Horrified by the ferocious fighting in Ukraine, the four priests of St. Nicholas first signed a petition in early March asking Patriarch Kirill to urge Russian authorities to end the war. But Kirill, doubling down like his ally Putin, came out in favor of the war, prompting a petition from Orthodox priests in Russia against the violence. Even the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church loyal to Moscow, Patriarch Onufry, appealed to Putin for “an immediate end to the fratricidal war.”
The priests in Amsterdam decided they could no longer commemorate Kirill at their divine liturgies and informed their superior, Archbishop Elisey of the Moscow Patriarchate in The Hague.
On March 6, Archbishop Elisey turned up unannounced just before their Sunday service. He took over the celebration and made sure a deacon from outside the parish commemorated Kirill.
“His visit was like a spiritual tank sent to our parish,” one parishioner complained afterwards to the Dutch daily Nederlands Dagblad.
The archbishop, who came in a car from the Russian embassy, warned the priests that both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Foreign Ministry were closely following developments in the parish.
The priests saw Archbishop Elisey’s warning as a threat but loyally mentioned his name during the service. “Then we started making contact with other hierarchs,” Meletios said.
“We have not left the Moscow Patriarchate,” the priests wrote on the parish website last week in an initial report about the archbishop’s unexpected visit. They listed examples from the past when dropping a patriarch’s name from a liturgy was not considered a schism.
But by Tuesday, March 8, a “Z” — the symbol widely used in support of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine — was daubed on the church’s gates. During the week, the parish received enough other threats that it decided to close down until further notice.
It was “no longer possible to function within the Moscow Patriarchate and provide a spiritually safe environment for their believers,” they concluded in another report on Saturday.
“We cannot go back on our decision to distance ourselves from Patriarch Kirill. Our consciences will not allow that,” they said. “So we see ourselves forced to link with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
The priests have now asked Archbishop Elisey to officially dismiss them from his diocese and asked Metropolitan Athenagoras, the top cleric of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Benelux countries, to take them under his wing.
According to the priests, they took this "very difficult step with pain in [their] hearts." As far as they are concerned, they and their parish "are concerned with the kingdom of Heaven and not with any political movement of any kind of kingdom here on Earth.”
As an ordained minister of religion myself, I stand in solidarity with these priests who have chosen to speak truth to power. I wish them well.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Friday, March 4, 2022
UPDATE: Beth Gazley (Indiana University), who studies nonprofits and particularly giving during disasters, has a good piece at The Conversation with pointers for giving wisely to help Ukrainians (How to responsibly donate to Ukrainian causes). And the Charity Commission for England and Wales has issued a Statement on Ukraine crisis and its implications for charities with both similar advice and issues relating to Russian charities in light of financial sanctions.
The speed with which events have moved in Ukraine, the firehose of information about the Russian invasion, and the fog of war make it difficult to get an even close to complete understanding of how donations are flowing to help Ukrainians and the role of charities in providing assistance. Nevertheless, some data points are emerging.
The deluge of media and social media attention appears to be generating a strong stream of donations. As reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy (‘It’s Not Like Anything I’ve Ever Seen': Aid Groups Report Overwhelming Donor Response for Ukraine), charities with experience and ties to Ukraine are seeing a surge in donations that at least initially is much higher than what occurred with other recent humanitarian crises. Several charities reported inflows to help Ukrainians in the millions of dollars just over the first six days since the invasion began on February 24th. The Washington Post reports (What people are donating to Ukraine and its refugees: Crypto, ammo, pet food and cash) that not only cash but also goods ranging from flour to pet food to ammunition are flowing to Ukrainians. And these private efforts are on top of the supplies and funds coming from governments, including an expected $6.4 billion in emergency aid for the region from the United States.
Thanks to the Internet and especially social media, donors can quickly identify the established charities that are most involved in helping Ukrainians. As early as February 25th, NPR reported (Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here's how you can help) on charities with programs already in place to help Ukrainians. See also this list from the Washington Post. And GoFundMe has established the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund that makes grants to charities identified in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, GlobalGiving, and others.
Ukrainians are also themselves establishing avenues for individuals and businesses to provide support. These range from funding humanitarian supplies for the Armed Forces of Ukraine through the National Bank of Ukraine, a GoFundMe campaign to support the Ukrainian media, and English-language campaigns by individual institutions such as the Ukrainian Catholic University.
Businesses are being creative in how they can provide support to Ukrainians. The above Washington Post story includes accounts of a Polish optician provided free eyeglasses and an Italian watch dealer giving the proceeds from the auction of a vintage Russian timepiece. In addition, Airbnb announced it will offer free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees. And of course this support is on top of businesses reconsidering their ties to Russia and Belarus, and particularly to state-owned enterprises and wealthy allies of Vladimir Putin.
Individuals are also being creative in how they get support to Ukrainians. For example, some individuals are renting Ukrainian Airbnbs that they have no intention of ever staying in to get funds quickly to their Ukrainian owners. Coverage: The Guardian; Today Show; USA Today. As this Twitter feed about this effort demonstrates, this method of donating is creating direct connections to individual Ukrainians that giving to charities, no matter how worthy, mostly lack.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
UPDATE: Politico article summarizing all of the comments submitted.
Axios reports that nonprofits from across the political spectrum are raising concerns about possible changes to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) regulations that could impact many nonprofits. The Department of Justice formally announced plans for these changes in an Advanced Notice of Public Rulemaking (ANPR) issued in December. The ANPR includes questions relating to the scope of agency for purposes of identifying agents of foreign principals (including the definition of "political consultant"), the scope of various exemptions, and various procedural issues.
The 29 comments submitted in response to the ANPR include one from a group of 14 nonprofits, among them the Alliance for Justice, the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, the NRDC, and Oxfam America, that is highlighted in the above Axios article. Their comment emphasized that "FARA’s overbreadth and vagueness can undermine and chill First Amendment rights to speech and association and the statute has a history of being used to target undesirable expressive conduct." Other comments from nonprofits, some of which were also part of the group of 14, include ones from the American Council on Education, the Institute for Free Speech, InterAction, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Friday, September 3, 2021
MinistryWatch, a watchdog organization focusing on religious nonprofits, recently reported on the continuing legal dispute between former donors and GFA World (formally Gospel for Asia). The most recent developments may have been missed by U.S. nonprofit observers because they are happening in a Toronto courtroom, unlike an earlier class action suit against the organization that was brought in Arkansas and settled in 2019.
According to the report, the Canadian lawsuit alleges that GFA World misused more than $100 million in donations. The allegations are based in part on asserted discrepancies between documents filed by GFA World, specifically Canadian tax forms reporting millions of dollars going to India and Indian forms showing no transfers from Canada to India. The donors bringing the suit are seeking class action status. GFA World has denied any wrongdoing.
Friday, July 30, 2021
White House Announces New Religions Affairs Leaders, Including First Islamic Religious Freedom Ambassador
The White House announced Friday (July 30) a slate of nominations and appointments for top religious affairs roles, including the first Muslim American nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
According to a report by the Religious News Service (RNS), President Biden will select Rashad Hussain as his nominee for that post, filling a State Department slot vacant since former Kansas governor and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback left at the close of the Trump administration. Hussain, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate, currently works as director for Partnerships and Global Engagement at the National Security Council.
Mr. Hussain previously served as White House counsel under President Barack Obama, as well as U.S. special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and U.S. special envoy for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, among other roles.
Commenting on the upcoming nomination, Saeed Khan, an expert on American Muslim communities at Wayne State University, stated: “Rashad’s appointment demonstrates not only the importance the Biden administration places on religious freedom, it also shows the importance of the Muslim world to the administration both in terms of combatting Islamophobia and also promoting religious freedom in Muslim majority countries. Rashad’s background will allow him to have a frank discussion with Muslim majority countries about religious freedom.”
Anila Ali, a co-founder of the American Muslims and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council Iftar who has worked with Hussain in the past, also celebrated his nomination. “As AMMWEC, and as a woman leader, I look forward to working with him because women play an important role in peace-making,” Ali said. “He has worked with Muslim communities during the Obama period and we hope his relevant experience is going to make him a voice for all of us.”
According to the RNS report, President Biden is also expected to nominate Deborah Lipstadt as the next U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Lipstadt is a professor at Emory University in Atlanta and a prominent Holocaust historian. She is the author of Antisemitism: Here and Now and is known for successfully defeating a libel suit brought against her by Holocaust denier David Irving.
Commenting on the expected nomination of Prof. Lipstadt, Mark (Moishe) Bane, president of the Orthodox Union, had this to say: “She is a leader with great moral courage; her dedicated work, clear voice in fighting Holocaust denial and preserving the memory of the attempted destruction of the Jewish people make her an exemplary choice for this role.”
In addition, President Biden plans to appoint two new commissioners to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom: Khizr Khan and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum.
Khan became famous in 2016 when he and his wife, Ghazala, spoke during the Democratic National Convention as “Gold Star” parents, discussing their son, Humayun, a U.S. Army captain who died in Iraq in 2004. Mr. Khan, the founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Project, runs his own law practice and has authored three books, including This is Our Constitution: Discover America with a Gold Star Father.
Kleinbaum, for her part, already served as a USCIRF commissioner in 2020 and leads the Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City, a community that centers LGBTQ people. A human rights advocate, she also sits on Mayor de Blasio’s Faith Based Advisory Council and serves on New York City’s Commission on Human Rights. In addition, she is a board member of the New York Jewish Agenda and the New Israel Fund.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Saturday, April 3, 2021
Americans lead the world in supporting charitable activities (both in the U.S. and abroad). For foreign charitable activities, two key questions arise:
1. Should tax benefits support charitable activities outside the U.S.?
2. Should the U.S. tax system treat contributions to foreign charities differently from contributions to domestic charities?
U.S. tax law imposes remarkably low barriers to cross-border philanthropy. Contributions to U.S. charities are deductible even if all charitable activity takes place outside the U.S. Nominally, direct contributions to foreign charities are generally not deductible for income tax purposes. Practically, donors can easily work around this restriction (at relatively low costs and complexity) by transmuting non-deductible contributions to foreign charities into deductible contributions to domestic charities.
The hard question is normative: what should the law be? This chapter provides a framework for examining the desirability of the current regime and the different factors policy-makers may find useful in considering options to either reduce or increase barriers to cross-border philanthropy.
FATF Announces New Project to Mitigate Unintended Consequences of Its Standards, Especially on Nonprofits
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has announced that in February of this year it launched "a new project to study and mitigate the unintended consequences resulting from the incorrect implementation of the FATF Standards." Those standards guide countries in implementing legal rules and processes to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal, international financial activity. Nonprofits have long complained that countries have used the standards as cover for improperly cracking down on cross-border philanthropy, particularly philanthropy supporting disfavored nonprofits.
Here is the full announcement:
In February 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) launched a new project to study and mitigate the unintended consequences resulting from the incorrect implementation of the FATF Standards.
The project will focus on four main areas:
- De-risking, or the loss or limitation of access to financial services. This practice has affected non-profit organisations (NPOs), money value transfer service providers, and correspondent banking relationships, in particular;
- Financial exclusion, a phenomenon whereby individuals are excluded from the formal financial system and denied access to basic financial services;
- Suppression of NPOs or the NPO sector as a whole through non-implementation of the FATF’s risk-based approach;
- Threats to fundamental human rights stemming from the misuse of the FATF Standards or AML/CFT assessment processes to enact, justify, or implement laws, which may violate rights such as due process or the right to a fair trial.
The FATF will conduct the project in two phases:
Phase One: research and engagement. The project team will analyse these unintended consequences resulting from the misuse of the FATF’s Standards on preventing and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This work will draw on the knowledge and experiences of members of the FATF’s Global Network of 205 jurisdictions, its observers, and outside stakeholders.
Phase Two: solutions. The second phase will develop options the FATF could consider to prevent and mitigate these unintended consequences.
The FATF welcomes input to inform this project, including, for example: scholarly research; industry and civil society perspectives; and documented instances of unintended consequences. Information may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. While contributions are welcome for the duration of the project, they would be most relevant for Phase One if submitted on or before 20 April 2021.
This is not an investigative endeavour, but an opportunity to study trends and propose solutions. Any information provided to the FATF Secretariat will be shared with the project team and the source will be identified. Depending on the volume of input, we may not be able to follow up on each suggestion for engagement, nor are we able to provide feedback about how, or if, information received is used.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Today's NonProfitTimes is reporting that the standards, guidelines and definitions for reporting the results of educational philanthropy have been updated with new guidance on gift counting, a new definition of educational philanthropy and for the first time, a statement on ethics.
According to the Times, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recently released the CASE Global Reporting Standards. For the first time since its initial publication in 1982, the standards offer a digital subscription and six-country supplement.
Previously referred to as the CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines, the CASE Global Reporting Standards is a common set of standards, guidelines and definitions for reporting the results of educational philanthropy activities at schools, colleges and universities across the globe.
The guidelines underpin CASE’s ongoing work to guide the profession, ensure integrity and consistency in educational advancement work, and to support CASE’s own work in data collection and reporting with its AMAtlas suite of tools such as the recently released Voluntary Support of Education (VSE) survey results.
The Times notes three key changes within the standards this year:
- Updated guidance around gift counting, funds received, new funds committed, and donor control and influence.
- For the first time, the CASE Global Reporting Standards added the CASE Statement on Ethics to the front of the book and adds the CASE Principles of Practice for the advancement disciplines, all recently updated by the CASE Commissions for Philanthropy, Communications and Marketing, and Alumni Relations and approved by the CASE Board of Trustees. The CASE Principles of Practice provide global guidelines for those professions and represent the community-derived foundations on which the advancement profession stands.
- A new definition for educational philanthropy: Voluntary act of providing private financial support to nonprofit educational institutions. To be categorized as philanthropy in keeping with CASE standards, such financial support must be provided for the sole purpose of benefiting the institution’s mission and its social impact, without the expressed or implied expectation that the donor will receive anything more than recognition and stewardship as the result of such support.
Announcing the new guidelines via a press release, CASE President & CEO Sue Cunningham stated, “The CASE Global Reporting Standards have at their core the CASE Ethics Statement and Principles of Practice for the profession. As institutional funding has evolved and created increasing expectations for philanthropic support, the need for clear guidance is paramount.”
The standards were reviewed and updated under the leadership of the CASE Reporting Standards and Management Guidelines Working Group. The group is comprised of 19 CASE volunteers and staff, co-chaired by Matthew Eynon, Vice President for College Advancement at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Brian Hastings, President and CEO of the University of Nebraska Foundation in Lincoln, Nebraska. Six groups of regional volunteers also provided guidance on the new regional supplements for Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, including text in Spanish and French.
Commenting on the project, Enyon had this to say: “In developing the first global reporting standards for the advancement profession, CASE has decided to make a statement about the power, impact and importance of philanthropy around the world. The working group members represented many of the leading advancement programs in the world, and their efforts helped to ensure we defined standards which represent excellence in our profession.”
Hastings added: “The standards are an essential element of upholding the integrity of our profession on a global scale. By reporting and benchmarking annual and campaign results consistent with the standards, all CASE member institutions can compare results with a greater level of confidence and understanding.”
Print copies and digital subscriptions of the Global Reporting Standards are available with a CASE membership discount from the CASE bookstore.
Prof. Vaughn E. James, Texas Tech University School of Law
Sunday, March 7, 2021
Int'l Developments: Ten Cases That Shaped Charity Law in 2020, European Legal Philanthropy Environment, Global Philanthropy, and Tax Incentives for Cross-Border Giving
- Ten Cases that Shaped Charity and Nonprofit Law in 2020 And Ten Trends to Consider by Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Frances Hannah (both Queensland University of Technology): Based on a review of over 200 cases.
- Legal Environment for Philanthropy in Europe (2020) by Philanthropy Advocacy, a joint project of the Donors and Foundations Network in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC).
- Global Philanthropy: Does Institutional Context Matter for Charitable Giving? (Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly) by Pamela Wiepking (Lilly Family School of Philanthropy), Femida Handy (University of Pennsylvania), Sohyun Park (Yonsei University), and others. Here is the abstract:
In this article, we examine whether and how the institutional context matters when understanding individuals’ giving to philanthropic organizations. We posit that both the individuals’ propensity to give and the amounts given are higher in countries with a stronger institutional context for philanthropy. We examine key factors of formal and informal institutional contexts for philanthropy at both the organizational and societal levels, including regulatory and legislative frameworks, professional standards, and social practices. Our results show that while aggregate levels of giving are higher in countries with stronger institutionalization, multilevel analyses of 118,788 individuals in 19 countries show limited support for the hypothesized relationships between institutional context and philanthropy. The findings suggest the need for better comparative data to understand the complex and dynamic influences of institutional contexts on charitable giving. This, in turn, would support the development of evidence-based practices and policies in the field of global philanthropy.
- Tax Incentives for Cross-Border Giving in an Era of Philanthropic Globalization: A Comparative Perspective (Canadian Journal of Comparative and Contemporary Law) by Natalie Silver (University of Sydney) and Renate Buijze (Erasmus University Rotterdam). Here is the abstract:
The 21st century has ushered in an era of philanthropic globalization marked by a significant rise in international charitable giving. At the same time, cross-border philanthropy has raised legitimate fiscal and regulatory concerns for government. To understand how donor countries have responded to this changed global philanthropic landscape, we use comparative tax methodology to develop a spectrum of approaches to the tax treatment of cross-border giving and apply tax policy criteria to critically evaluate the divergent approaches of Australia and the Netherlands, located at opposing ends of the spectrum. Findings from the comparative analysis reveal that in the current global environment for philanthropy there is a strong case to be made for allowing tax deductible donations to cross borders.
Monday, December 7, 2020
The OECD recently issued a report on Taxation and Philanthropy that will likely be of interest to our readers.
The summary provides: "This report provides a detailed review of the tax treatment of philanthropic entities and philanthropic giving in 40 OECD member and participating countries. The report first examines the various arguments for and against the provision of preferential tax treatment for philanthropy. It then reviews the tax treatment of philanthropic entities and giving in the 40 participating countries, in both a domestic and cross-border context. Drawing on this analysis, the report then highlights a range of potential tax policy options for countries to consider."
Saturday, November 21, 2020
C. Chapman, M. Homsey, N. Gillespie: A Longitudinal & Multinational Examination of Public Trust in Nonprofits
Cassandra M. Chapman, Matthew J. Homsey, and Nicole Gillespie (all from the University of Queensland) have published No Global Crisis in Trust: A Longitudinal and Multinational Examination of Public Trust in Nonprofits in the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Here is the abstract:
Recent high-profile scandals suggest the potential for a crisis of trust in charities, which could have negative consequences for the nonprofit sector as a whole. Although widespread, this crisis narrative has not yet been subjected to empirical examination. To assess the extent to which public trust has changed over time, we examined trust in nongovernmental organizations within 31 countries over nine consecutive years using data from the Edelman Trust Barometer (N = 294,176). Multilevel analysis revealed that, after allowing for differences in absolute levels of trust and trends across countries, there was actually a small increase in global trust in the nonprofit sector. This increase was sharper among men, people aged below 40 years, and people with higher education, income, and media consumption. Overall, we find no evidence of a crisis of trust in nonprofits; scandals within individual organizations have not affected sectoral trust.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Oonagh B. Breen (University College Dublin) has published Regulating European Philanthropy: Lessons from the Scholarly Legacy of Evelyn Brody in the Nopnrofit Policy Forum. Here is the abstract:
Throughout her long and distinguished academic career, spanning more than three decades, as a Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent University, Evelyn Brody’s work has interrogated three broad themes that underpin and drive charity law – the tax treatment of charities; the governance framework applicable to charities, its application, monitoring and enforcement; and the evolution of charitable structures over time, whether from an economic convergence perspective, a constitutional right of association perspective or from a public/private benefit perspective. This article reviews Brody’s contribution in these key areas. It explores the resonance of her work outside of the United States and its relevance for EU non-profit scholars before looking to Brody’s research legacy for future nonprofit scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.
Langford (two papers): Conflicts and Coherence in the Charities Sphere; Using the Corporate Form for Public Benefit
Rosemary Teele Langford (Melbourne) has posted two articles. The first is Conflicts and Coherence in the Charities Sphere: Would a Conflict By Any Other Name Proscribe the Same?, 14 Journal of Equity 1 (2020). Here is the abstract:
Proscriptions on conflicts of interest have long been a core component of governance regimes. In the charities sphere such proscriptions arise from a number of sources, including general law, statute and governance standards articulated by the regulator. Unfortunately the wording of relevant conflicts duties varies extensively, giving rise to acute incoherence and uncertainty. This article undertakes detailed critical analysis of the myriad of conflicts duties in order to provide certainty and comprehensive guidance. This resolution is relevant beyond the charitable sphere given the multitude of ways in which conflicts proscriptions are expressed in other governance contexts.
The second is Use of the Corporate Form for Public Benefit - Revitalisation of Australian Corporations Law, which will be published in 43 University of New South Wales Law Journal No. 3 (2020). Here is the abstract:
This article specifically addresses the theme of revitalisation of Australian law in the facilitation of purpose-based companies. It is the second of two articles on purpose-based governance in the charitable and for-profit spheres. Building on the first article, this article critically analyses relevant features of the Australian corporations law regime. It pays close attention to challenges relating to the application of directors’ duties where companies have multiple purposes and to the drafting of appropriate constitutional provisions. In so doing it draws on insights from overseas jurisdictions that have enacted legislation to enable purpose-based companies.
Shuoyan Li (Shanghai University) has published Global Civil Society Under the New INGO Regulatory Law: A Comparative Case Study of Two INGOs in China, in VOLUNTAS. Here is the abstract:
This paper tries to explain why similar International Nongovernmental Organizations (INGOs) have different scopes under the new regulatory law in China. While previous studies have often associated fragmented authoritarianism with more room for civil sectors, the unintended consequence has been largely ignored. The paper argues that while civil sectors benefit from decentralized bureaucratic politics, the conflict between bureaucracies may also become an obstacle. This argument is based on a comparative case study of two similar INGOs whose missions are to solve poverty issues. While World Vision International had difficulties becoming a national organization after establishing several provincial offices with the help of local authorities, Oxfam succeeded and received permission from CPAFFC because it terminated collaboration with other local authorities, which put CPAFFC at ease. The interviews illustrate that competition among different departments and concerns about political risk lead to different outcomes for civil society. Government agencies will doubt an INGO’s willingness to commit to a new relationship if it has too many partners. This implication reveals the complex effects of fragmented bureaucracy on INGOs. The decentralized political structure may lead to different outcomes for INGOs. It is necessary for INGOs to understand the political logic of the new INGO law so that they can choose the proper strategy to maximize their benefits.
Francisco-José López-Arceiz (Universidad Pública de Navarra) and Ana J. Bellostas (University of Zaragoza) have published Nonprofit governance and outside corruption: The role of accountability, stakeholder participation, and management systems in Nonprofit Management & Leadership. Here is the abstract:
Outside corruption implies that a nonprofit organizatio
n is used to commit an infraction or crime. In Spain, this type of corruption has been detected in the context of public nonprofits as a result of the legal reform that enabled the judgment of the criminal responsibility of legal entities. A large percentage of these entities were affected by the reform, but little is known about the possible practices that can altogether prevent this behavior. In particular, there are few studies that consider nonprofit governance as a possible measure to avoid corruption in this context. For this reason, our aim is to analyze the role of certain nonprofit governance practices in fighting corruption. Using structural equation modeling, our results reveal that nonprofit governance is a key tool for mitigating corruption, although the weights of the different practices are not the same.
I have posted Charitable Crowdfunding. Here is the abstract:
Charitable crowdfunding is a global and rapidly growing new method for raising money to benefit charities and individuals in need. While mass fundraising has existed for more than a hundred years, crowdfunding is distinguishable from those earlier efforts because of its low cost, speed of implementation, and broad reach. Reflecting these advantages, it now accounts annually for
billions of dollars raised from tens of millions of donors through hundreds of Internet platforms such as Charidy, Facebook, GoFundMe, and GlobalGiving. Although most charitable crowdfunding campaigns raise only modest amounts, every year several efforts attract tens of millions of dollars in donations. However, charitable crowdfunding also has its downsides. Donors may misunderstand how the beneficiaries will use the funds raised or a campaign that unexpectedly goes viral may overwhelm a small charity or greatly exceed an individual’s needs. There have also been instances of outright fraud, as well as concerns raised about money laundering and terrorist financing.
Existing laws relating to charitable solicitations and charities more generally have either uncertain or limited application to charitable crowdfunding. Broader fraud and money laundering laws may apply to the worst abuses, but these usually criminal statutes are rarely invoked. The challenge faced by government regulators is therefore whether and how to modify existing laws to address the downsides of this new activity without unduly inhibiting the generosity that charitable crowdfunding encourages. This challenge is made more difficult by the lack of information regarding the positive effects as well as the downsides of crowdfunding. Finally, existing scholarship relating to charitable crowdfunding focuses on either the motivations of donors or tax implications instead of addressing this regulatory problem, even as some governments are beginning to develop proposals to address this activity.
This Article fills this gap by reviewing the existing, incomplete information regarding charitable crowdfunding and theories for regulating in the face of uncertainty to develop recommendations for addressing this new and growing phenomenon. Given we know very little about the positive and negative effects of charitable crowdfunding, and given that any harms are likely modest, purely financial, and often readily cured, I recommend that governments should at this time only take two steps. First, governments should require notification of designated beneficiaries to help ensure funds raised reach those beneficiaries. Second, governments should require notification of regulators, but only for the small subset of campaigns that cross a relatively high threshold, to both provide information about the scale and growth of charitable crowdfunding and deter problems with the largest campaigns. Additionally, I disagree with initial steps taken by some governments to impose more comprehensive consent and administration requirements on many or all charitable crowdfunding campaigns because such requirements are unnecessary hindrances on this new and innovative way of encouraging generosity, given there is little evidence of widespread problems and given that any potential harm is almost certainly relatively small and easily remedied if it occurs.
McMillan: Noncharitable Nonprofit Organizations and Tax Policy: Working Toward a Public Benefit Theory
Lori A. McMillan (Washburn) has posted Noncharitable Nonprofit Organizations and Tax Policy: Working Toward a Public Benefit Theory, which will be published 59 Washburn Law Journal No. 2 (2020). Here is the abstract:
Noncharitable Nonprofits in Canada are exempt from federal income tax, but are subjected to little scrutiny to qualify for this exemption. The tax policy behind this exemption is explored in this paper, trying to determine what should underpin the exemption for these types of organization.
Friday, June 12, 2020
Charitable organisations occupy a central place in society across much of the world, accounting for billions of pounds in revenue. As society changes, so does the law which regulates nonprofit organisations. From independent schools to foodbanks, they occupy a broad policy space. Not immune to scandals, sometimes nonprofits are in the news for all the wrong reasons and so, when they are in the public eye, regulators must respond to high profile cases.
In this book, a team of internationally recognised charity law experts offers a modern take on a fast-changing policy field. Through the concept of policy debates it moves the field forward, providing an important reference point for developing scholarship in charity law and policy. Each chapter explores a policy debate, setting out the fault-lines in play, and often offering proposals for reform.
Two important themes are explored in this edited collection. First, there is a policy tension in charity law between its largely conservative history and the need to keep up-to-date with social change. This pressure is felt acutely along key fault-lines, such as the extent to which a body of law which developed before the advent of legislated human rights is able to adapt to a rights-based world, and the extent to which independent schools – historically so closely linked with charity – might deserve their generous tax-breaks. The second theme explores the law from the perspective of a good-faith regulator, concerned to maximise the usefulness of charities. From the need to reform old organisations, to the need to ensure that charities enjoy the right amount of regulatory freedom in a world of payment-by-result contracts, the book critically charts the policy justifications for regulatory intervention, as well as the costs that such intervention might bring.
Debates in Charity Law will be of interest to both academic researchers and students of the non-profit sector, looking to understand the links between law, social change and regulation. It will also help and guide nonprofit employees and volunteers, showing how their sector is shaped and moulded by the law.
And here is the Table of Contents:
1. Fault Lines in Charity Law
John Picton and Jennifer Sigafoos
2. Independence and Accountability in the Charity Sector
3. Debating the Extent of Party/State Control Over Overseas Nonprofit Organisations: Charity Law Debates in China
4. Regulating Egoism in Perpetuity
5. Deploying Communitarianism Bankruptcy Theory to Rescue Insolvent Charities and Maintain Charitable Purposes
6. When Should Charities be Allowed to Discriminate? The Case of Single-Sex Services and Transgender People
7. Regulating Charitable Activities through the Requirement for Charitable Purposes: Square Peg Meets Round Hole
8. Redefining the Regulatory Space? Th e First Forays of the Irish Charities Regulatory Authority
Oonagh B Breen
9. Independent Schools in Scotland: Should they be Charities?
10. Licking their Own Lollipops: What do Charities and the Public Think about the Regulation of Charitable Activities?
11. Commissioning of Services by Charities in the Third Decade of the Contract Culture: Lessons Learned (or Not Yet)
12. Regulating the Digital (Currency) Revolution: Unravelling the Technological Challenge Faced by Charities
Matthew Robert Shillito
13. Social Housing – Charities and Vulnerable Groups
14. Charity Law and Policy: Looking Forward
Jennifer Sigafoos and John Picton