Abstract: In the absence of owners, how effective are the constraints imposed by the state in promoting effective organization governance? This paper develops state-level indices of the governance environment facing not-for-profits and examines the effects of these rules on not-for-profit behavior. Stronger provisions aimed at detecting and punishing managerial misbehavior are associated with significantly greater charitable expenditures, increased foundation payouts, and lower managerial compensation. The paper also examines how governance influences an alternative metric of not-for-profit performance—the provision of social insurance. Stronger governance measures are associated with intertemporal smoothing of resources in response to economic shocks.