Thursday, July 8, 2010

Accountability Matters

It's been three months since the new Accountability Wizard was launched and the response has been remarkable. Within the first two days, over a dozen nonprofits got started with a review and to date more than 150 nonprofits have created an account in the Accountability Wizard and begun the process.

Several nonprofits have already met all of the new Accountability Standards! The first was Students Today Leaders Forever, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit whose missions is to reveal leadership through service relationships and action. STLF blazed through the Accountability Wizard in less than a month and have posted a blog about it.

While the fact that so many nonprofits are voluntarily choosing to go through a review is exciting, to me it begs a question. Why do nonprofits put themselves through this?

Not to appear self-serving, but one factor clearly is the shifting nonprofit environment towards more accountability and transparency. Simply put, doing good just isn't good enough. Donors (both individual and institutional) expect more proof regarding organizational impact and prudent stewardship of resources. This shift, of course, is happening while philanthropic dollars are declining. (The Urban Institute recently released a study that indicated this trend was beginning as early as 2007 before the bottom fell out of the economy.)

Although accountability and transparency have always been important to the nonprofit sector, now it matters even more. This trend, I believe, is reflected not only in the number of nonprofits that have started the new Accountability Wizard, but also in the burgeoning number of charity watchdog websites and the upcoming changes to the way Charity Navigator rates nonprofits, just to name two examples.

I applaud those nonprofits that have voluntarily stepped up to the plate and started the new Accountability Wizard. In this "new normal" that everyone has been talking about, demonstrating accountability is vital and an Accountability Wizard review is certainly one way to do this.

If you are interested in learning more about the Accountability Wizard, you can sign up for a free introductory webinar on the Charities Review Council website.

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