MARCH 25, 2011: Charities regulators from 35 states and American Samoa gathered on the Columbia campus for a conference entitled At the Intersection of Technology, the Charitable Sector and State Regulators. The conference was co-sponsored by the Charities Regulation and Oversight Project of the National State Attorney General Program at Columbia Law School and the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute (NAGTRI).
The conference, open only to state charities regulators, addressed topics of increasing urgency to the sector, including data privacy, fundraising and marketing via new technologies including social media and data aggregation, e-registration of charities, and investigatory methods of collecting and admitting social media evidence. Panelists and attendees discussed technology available to regulators to improve consistency and efficiency in regulatory activities, as well as new charitable marketing and fundraising models focused on causes rather than charitable entities. Speakers included nonprofit technology experts, a federal trade commissioner, a Chronicle of Philanthropy journalist, nonprofit fundraising specialists and a private attorney specializing in new technological advances in investigatory techniques. State regulators from the National Association of State Charities Officials (NASCO) helped lead and participated in all sessions. Attorney and lead counsel to the Columbia Law School Charities Project Cindy M. Lott developed and moderated the two-day conference.
Regulators’ attendance at the conference was secured by scholarships provided by NAGTRI and the State Attorneys General Program. Attendees included state assistant and deputy attorneys general, investigators, and division chiefs from attorneys general offices around the United States and American Samoa. This was the third conference that the Charities Project and NAGTRI have co-sponsored to provide regulators with resources and training in a specific substantive area of charities regulation, as well as a forum in which to meet and exchange knowledge and experience. Each of the training conferences has garnered superlative reviews from speakers and evaluations from attendees.
Since 2006, the Charities Regulation and Oversight Project has been the largest and most developed initiative of The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School, a legal research, education-and-policy center that examines the implications of the jurisprudence of state attorneys general. As a resource to attorneys general in fulfilling their charities enforcement responsibilities, the Charities Project seeks to foster a comprehensive approach to protecting charitable assets and ensuring their lawful, highest, and best use in the public interest.
Toward the goal of more consistent and thoughtful regulation, the Project develops best practices guidelines and other regulatory tools for attorneys general, educates them and other stakeholders about these best practices, facilitates communication among attorneys general, and institutionalizes the dialogue between attorneys general, the regulated communities and legal scholars specializing in this area of study.