Transparency and Accountability

February 12th, 2009   •   Comments Off on Transparency and Accountability   

Today’s Chronicle Herald features a front-page article on a donor’s discontent with the way her donation was handled by a local charity:

Reading the article, one is left with the impression that the donor is not so much upset by the use of the funds, as she is about the apparent lack of transparency. According to the article, the donor was not informed when the charity instituted a change in the use of the facilities made possible by the donated funds. The donor received several letters of complaint from stakeholders affected by the decision made by the charity – leaving her feeling, in her words, “heartbroken and saddened”.

Could this situation have been avoided? Had the charity made thier intentions clear from the outset, the public sentiment may still have be one of disapproval, but the donor would have known clearly how her gift was to be used and would not have been left surprised and, perhaps, embarrassed, by the charity’s actions.

Charities play an invaluable role in society, and their continued success is dependent upon the public’s trust and confidence. No one can argue that the charity discussed in this article is not fully deserving of the public’s trust and confidence. No one can question the outstanding dedication of the staff, and the enormous contribution they make to our community. As a public, we embrace them and whole-heartedly support their work.

However, this “black-eye”, as the article refers to it, on the organization could have likely been avoided through improved donor communications. Communicating in a way that is fully transparent with donors and stakeholders, even if the news is unpopular or unpleasant, not only builds trust and confidence – it fosters a culture of accountability.

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