Debunking “Accountability to Donors” Part 3

The notion that organizations are primarily accountable to their donors is a dangerous one indeed – dangerous because it misdirects organizational focus, thereby preventing organizations from creating an amazing future for their communities.

It is also a notion fraught with logic-leaps.

And so, here is Post #3, as I continue to debunk the illogical constructs at the heart of the Donor Accountability movement.

(If you have not read the posts leading up to this one, you can start at the beginning here.)

Donating What?
If an organization is first and foremost accountable to those who provide the resources to make their programs possible, are those organizations only accountable to donors who give them cash?

What about the donor who provides $100,000 in free rent every year? What about a volunteer who works 40 hours a week, every week, for free?

If we are primarily accountable to our donors, are we accountable to our volunteers and our in-kind donors to the same extent we would be accountable to our cash donors? And if not, why not?

These are not just glib arguments. Because we do indeed accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for, the issues in this thread are at the heart of what organizations can and will accomplish for the communities we all love.

If we hold ourselves accountable for creating an amazing future for our communities, our donors will be happy, because our communities will be healthy, vibrant, resilient, humane places to live.

Yes, one of the many contributing factors towards those lofty ends is the extent to which organizations are fiscally prudent and responsive to donors. However, ultimate accountability for a Community Benefit organization means more than a focus on the dollars.

Accountability asks and answers the question, “Whose expectations matter?”

And unless the primary answer to that question is, “The Community,” we will continue to see fiscally prudent organizations creating little impact in their communities.

Click here to go to the next post in this series.

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