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Exploring the Relationship between State Charitable Solicitation Regulations and Fundraising Performance

Nathan Dietz, Putnam Barber, Cindy Lott, and Mary Shelly

Nonprofit Policy Forum – August 23, 2017

In the USA, the regulatory framework for fundraising by charitable organizations has been described as a “50-state mix of fees, registration, auditing, and financial reporting requirements” (Irvin 2005, “State Regulation of Nonprofit Organizations: Accountability Regardless of Outcome.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 34 (2):161–178). However, little is known about how differences in state fundraising regulations might affect the ability of organizations to raise funds from donors. State charities regulation is intended to cultivate an environment that incentivizes giving and reduces fraud, where donor dollars are maximized for the mission to which they are given. Whether current charitable solicitation regulations actually succeed or impede this regulatory goal is the subject of this paper. For this research, we create an index of fundraising regulatory breadth, based on the presence or absence of key components of state charitable solicitation regulations. We use a nationally representative, longitudinal database to examine the impact of state fundraising regulations on fundraising performance. The database, which contains details of over 110 million gift transactions recorded by charities between 2006 and 2016, permits the creation of several organization-level metrics used by professional fundraisers. These metrics serve as dependent variables in multivariate models, where the control variables characterize the charitable environment of the states where the organizations are located. Although space does not permit a complete description of our results, we suggest that further research will add to the understanding of how to construct effective regulation of these and other transactions. The analysis compares state-level measures of fundraising performance, which summarize the organization-level metrics calculated from the multivariate analysis, with the state-level values of the regulatory breadth index. The results of the analysis suggest that organizations tend to have lower values for these fundraising metrics, controlling for the characteristics of the state’s charitable environment, in states that have more robust regulatory regimes (where more activities are covered). However, these results appear to be largely a result of the influence of those states where both (1) regulatory breadth is greater and (2) the oversight system is bifurcated: that is, oversight of fundraising is located in both the state attorney general’s office and another state agency, such as a secretary of state’s office.

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Urban Blight and Public Health: Addressing the Impact of Substandard Housing, Abandoned Buildings, and Vacant Lots

Erwin de Leon, Joseph Schilling

Urban Institute – April 11, 2017

“Urban Blight and Public Health: Addressing the Impact of Substandard Housing, Abandoned Buildings, and Vacant Lots,” released by the Urban Institute, synthesizes recent studies on the complexities of how blight affects the health of individuals and neighborhoods while offering a blend of policy and program recommendations to help guide communities in taking a more holistic and coordinated approach.

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State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector

Cindy M. Lott, Elizabeth T. Boris, Karin Kunstler Goldman, Belinda J. Johns, Marcus Gaddy, Maura R. Farrell

Urban Institute – September 13, 2016

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.

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