SSHRC grant facilitates research in charity law

Adam ParachinProfessor Adam Parachin will explore ways to modernise the regulatory framework for charities in Canada thanks to a generous grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Parachin is a member of a team of scholars who have received $198,300 in funding over 3 years for a research project titled "Philanthropic Action of Grant-Making Foundations: Investigating their Social Innovation and Catalytic Role in Societal Change".

The inter-disciplinary project draws on participation from scholars specializing in the fields of sociology, non-profit studies and law, with Parachin being the only law scholar.

Parachin says that “Charity law has not kept pace with the increasingly complex world in which charities now operate.  Innovation in the charitable sector and changes in society have blurred boundary lines that charity law takes for granted.” 

"Social enterprises", which combine charity and business, challenge the traditional distinction drawn between charity and business. 

Likewise, "impact investing", where investments are designed to achieve investment returns and charitable purposes, challenge the orthodox distinction drawn between investments and charitable programming. 

“Even the distinction drawn by charity law between charitable education and non-charitable political advocacy has become blurred,” says Parachin.

The lead applicant for the research project is Professor Jean-Marc Fontan at the Université du Québec á Montréal (UQAM). The other co-applicants include a range of academics from UQAM, Regina, New Brunswick, Mount Royal and Manitoba. The partners are Community Foundations of Canada, Mount Royal University, Philanthropic Foundations Canada and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The project is in addition to Parachin’s existing SSHRC Insight Grant dealing with the income tax recognition of charitable donations.