The development of incorporated structures for charities: a 100 year comparison of England and New Zealand

Carolyn J. Cordery, Carolyn Fowler, Gareth Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article contrasts the emergence of two specific incorporated structures for non-profit organizations which came into being more than a century apart. We compare the ability for charities to form as “incorporated societies” under the New Zealand Incorporated Societies Act 1908 (effective from 1909), and to form as “charitable incorporated organizations” (CIOs), which were enacted in England and Wales under the Charities Act 2006 (effective from 2013). The article emphasizes the need for charitable non-profit organizations to incorporate for effective operation. This issue is rarely discussed, but the chosen legal form brings specific financial accounting obligations, affecting organizations’ accountability to third parties. Taking a comparative international history approach and drawing on a range of sources, we explore the socio-legal processes which led to the relevant legislation in each country. In particular, this diffusion study investigates why a specific corporate form for charitable non-profit organizations came into effect more than 100 years later in England as compared to New Zealand, with “place” emerging as the most significant comparative dimension.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1177/1032373216638104
Pages (from-to)281-303.
JournalAccounting History
Issue number2-3
Early online date25 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2016 (The Authors). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.


  • accounting and accountability;
  • incorporated societies
  • charitable incorporated organizations (CIOs);
  • charities;


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