Book Review: Myles Mcgregor-Lowndes and Bob Wyatt (Eds.), Regulating Charities: The Inside Story, New York: Routledge (2017)
Nonprofit Policy Forum, 2017
4 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2018
Date Written: November 16, 2017
REGULATING CHARITIES: THE INSIDE STORY is a fascinating amalgam that is part history, part chronology, and part storytelling about recent changes in how five historically connected common law countries approach regulating their charitable sectors. These countries are England and Wales, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, with each country’s evolutions being covered distinctively in at least two chapters.
Chapter authors include those who have served as principle executives of their country’s primary regulatory body, members and chairs of government oversight commissions, a legislator, and leaders and practitioners from within the respective charitable sectors, including one with a decidedly state-level orientation. Many authors cross several categories, and some cut across multiple jurisdictions having served as advisors to others or substantive participants in international gatherings of charitable sector regulators.
The book decidedly eschews a coordinated effort or commanded approach and successfully avoids merely comparing and contrasting among jurisdictions. Instead, the editors allow the chapter authors to communicate their perspectives on and experiences with the recent changes in the manner they believe will be most useful. In the process, the reader can draw their own comparisons, especially across the several key themes that organically emerge: the influence of political power, challenges balancing regulator independence vis a vis government and the sector, views of permissible proactive engagement by charitable sector entities in policy activity, and the effects in some countries of increasingly blurring lines with other sectors -- government and business.
With this combination and approach, REGULATING CHARITIES satisfies certain curiosities, stokes others, and ignites new ones, perhaps especially in allowing the reader to decipher for him or herself just how much of the approaches taken by any given jurisdiction may or may not be readily transferrable to others. The book succeeds in demonstrating that appropriately regulating the charitable sector is challenging and that adapting from another jurisdiction(s) is not as easy nor as obvious as it might appear on the surface.
Keywords: regulation, nonprofit, charities, tax exempt, independent sector
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