The Faithless Fiduciary: And the Quest for Charitable Accountability, 1200-2005

Front Cover
Carolina Academic Press, 2007 - Business & Economics - 367 pages
In recent years the nonprofit sector has been subject to numerous scandals, which have tarnished its reputation and brought demands for stricter regulation. It is often assumed these misdeeds reflect a recent change in the behavior of charities and of charitable fiduciaries, the people who work for nonprofits or serve on their boards. The reality is otherwise. Chicanery involving charities is timeless. The Faithless Fiduciary examines the enduring problem of opportunistic behavior by charitable fiduciaries, and the inability to create an effective system of oversight or accountability for charitable assets. The Faithless Fiduciary and the Quest for Charitable Accountability traces charity scandals, as well as attempts to counter such behavior from the thirteenth century to the present. One vehicle for examining the persistence of opportunistic fiduciary behavior is the Hospital of St. Cross, an almshouse founded in the twelfth century outside of the City of Winchester in Hampshire, England. St. Cross still serves the poor and offers a contemporary visitor, though unlikely to be a pilgrim on the way to Canterbury, a draught of beer and some bread. What is unique about this venerable charity is the recurrence of fiduciary wrongdoing by its leaders through the centuries in 1190, 1304, 1320, 1372, 1576, 1696, and 1853. Crossing the Atlantic, The Faithless Fiduciary examines charity scandals from the beginnings of European settlement to the present.This author offers several propositions: 1) a favorable attitude toward philanthropy has existed since the thirteenth century in both society in a normative sense and through the legal systems protection of charities; 2) many fiduciaries, regularly, in almost all contexts and periods, have breached their trust; and 3) the attempt to regulate charities and fiduciaries largely has been ineffective. The Faithless Fiduciary concludes with a proposal to make charities more accountable.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Fiduciary and Accountability Concepts
Some Contemporary Breaches
Philanthropy Opportunistic Fiduciaries

10 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

James J. Fishman is a James D. Hopkins Professor of Law, Pace University School of Law.

Bibliographic information