The determinants of charity misconduct

Diarmuid McDonnell*, Alasdair C. Rutherford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Charities in the United Kingdom have been the subject of intense media, political, and public scrutiny in recent times; however, our understanding of the nature, extent, and determinants of charity misconduct is weak. Drawing upon a novel administrative dataset of 25,611 charities for the period 2006-2014 in Scotland, we develop models to predict two dimensions of charity misconduct: regulatory investigation and subsequent action. There have been 2,109 regulatory investigations of 1,566 Scottish charities over the study period, of which 31% resulted in regulatory action being taken. Complaints from members of the public are most likely to trigger an investigation, whereas the most common concerns relate to general governance and misappropriation of assets. Our multivariate analysis reveals a disconnect between the types of charities that are suspected of misconduct and those that are subject to subsequent regulatory action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-125
Number of pages19
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date3 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • charity misconduct
  • nonprofit regulation
  • charity accountability
  • nonprofit risk
  • nonprofit failure
  • nonprofit governance


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