Accounting and Charities - An Introduction

Accounting History, 2016, Vol 21 (2-3), pp 139 - 143

Posted: 16 Apr 2018

See all articles by Rachel F. Baskerville

Rachel F. Baskerville

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Accounting and Commercial Law

Stefania Servalli

University of Bergamo

Date Written: March 21, 2016


It has long been recognized that governments world-wide, and the State, will support charities with financial support because the charities operate to offer functions which would otherwise have to be undertaken by the government. When the call was made for papers for this special issue, the guest editors hoped for a range of approaches and a range of time and jurisdictional analysis, but the latter was not the case. Two of the papers here are based on Italian charitable organizations, the others all from English-speaking jurisdictions.

Such a result recognizes that further explorations should be made to provide other geographic perspectives. If English-speaking areas can be thus analysed in the light of its features, the European continent surely deserves more investigation. Indeed, Europe with its plurality of nationalities and its social-political characteristics has always been a heterogeneous context, with a variety of philanthropic impulses. The same Italian area (represented in this Special Issue by two works), if traced in historical dimension, cannot be considered as a whole, representing a nation that is the result of a unification of previous States or City-States. Charities emerging in different Italian cities represent expressions of different ways to organize the underlying response based on caritas.

There were no papers received on any history of accounting for, or by, a charity in countries which are low on the OECD tables. Any research by academics, if done at all in these nation states, is scarcely funded, but an examination of the drivers for indigenous charity in developing countries would offer the reader an appreciation of the universality of altruism, well-established in socio-biological literature. May we look towards further explorations on this theme in Accounting History, and hope that PhD students among others reading this issue are encouraged to provide such insights. In this regard, a full examination of previous decades of research contributions on charities, specifically and more generally on related charitable organizations of diverse structures in accounting history, will be pivotal to unveiling “unexplored lands”, and to boosting further research on the full dimensions of accounting, accountability, auditing and governance.

Keywords: charities, accounting, financial reporting, history of charities

JEL Classification: N80, M41

Suggested Citation

Baskerville, Rachel F. and Servalli, Stefania, Accounting and Charities - An Introduction (March 21, 2016). Accounting History, 2016, Vol 21 (2-3), pp 139 - 143, Available at SSRN:

Rachel F. Baskerville (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - School of Accounting and Commercial Law ( email )

Faculty of Commerce and Administration
PO Box 600
New Zealand
006444636951 (Phone)
006444635076 (Fax)


Stefania Servalli

University of Bergamo ( email )

Via Salvecchio, 19
Bergamo, 24129

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