Charity Law’s Essentials
53 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 28, 2009
The boundary between charity and business has become a moving target. Social enterprises, philanthropy divisions of for-profit companies (most notably at Google), and legislation creating hybrid nonprofit/for-profit forms all use business models and practices to mold and pursue charitable objectives. This article asserts that charity law must be streamlined in order to respond to these and other dramatic charitable innovations. My new vision of charity law centers around two essential requirements. First, charity law must continue to demand that charities maintain an other-regarding orientation, pursuing benefits for someone other than their own leaders and managers. Second, existing charity law must be revised and supplemented to mandate that charities utilize group governance. Additionally, this dual focus should be intensified by removing the limits on commercial and political activity that currently clutter charity law. These reforms will enhance charity law’s ability to regulate traditional charities. Moreover, focusing charity law on its essentials will reveal the tools necessary to respond to the exciting developments blurring the boundary between charity and business.
Keywords: charity, nonprofit, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, L3C, community interest company, hybrid organizations
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