Bookkeeping, but not for profit: A special form of double entry in a 16th century Venetian charity

Maria Lusiani, Chiara Pancot, Alan Sangster, Marco Vedovato* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Double entry bookkeeping is considered to involve the recording of monetary amounts and is recognised as consequently facilitating financial reporting concerning the financial stewardship of an entity. This paper presents a unique example of double entry bookkeeping that responds to a different stewardship need, one where quantities are sometimes the focus of interest, while elsewhere it is monetary amounts. Duality is maintained throughout, even in cases where the debit entries are in monetary amounts and the credit entries are in quantities. These findings arose from an investigation into the diffusion of double entry from its banking and commercial roots into the not-for-profit sector in 16th century Venice. Its focus was the accounting practice and the management of a small charitable hospice within the context of its socio-political, economic, and commercial environment. Identification of this hybrid variant form of double entry bookkeeping in the account book of the charity confirms that diffusion of the method had occurred. And, it had done so in a tailored way that was more varied and nuanced by its purpose than might have been anticipated from the texts of Pacioli and the several authors of 16th century Venetian bookkeeping manuals. It is concluded that the differences identified were adopted to delineate responsibility and facilitate assessment of stewardship.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101175
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Data Availability Statement

Data will be made available on request.


  • 16th century
  • Bookkeeping
  • Charities
  • Diffusion
  • Double entry
  • Social services
  • Stewardship
  • Venice


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