Regulation of the Charitable Sector Project

The Regulation of Nonprofits and Philanthropy Project is an initiative of Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. Organized in conjunction with the Tax Policy and Charities Project at the Urban Institute, the project will focus on empirical research that addresses the current status of the regulatory system and the effects of regulations on nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

Using a mix of research methodologies and data sources, the project will fill gaps in knowledge and host discussions that will begin to address the strengths and weaknesses of the current regulatory framework and make recommendations to promote a regulatory framework that is elastic enough to encompass the significant changes taking place in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector.

Download the project description.

Legal Compendium

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.  Download the Legal Compendium

Contact a project team member:

Elizabeth T. Boris, Institute Fellow
Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Cindy M. Lott, Senior Fellow
Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Program Director, Nonprofit Management Programs
School of Professional Studies
Columbia University


State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector
This study is the first systematic analysis of state-level oversight and regulation of charities in the United States. Conducted by the Charities Regulation and Oversight Project at Columbia Law School and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, the analysis has three components: a legal analysis of laws pertaining to charities in 56 US jurisdictions; a survey of all state and territory offices with oversight, regulatory, and enforcement authority over charities (with at least one office within 47 jurisdictions completing the survey); and interviews with officials in over two-thirds of those offices. Among the findings are that the organization of state charity offices and their jurisdictions vary greatly, with staffing that is often less than one full-time equivalent, and total 355 people across the states.


State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector
September 26, 2016

In this event 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. Meeting materials available HERE.

Data Collection, Sharing, and Transparency in the Tax-Exempt Sector
December 1, 2015

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.  Meeting materials available HERE.