Debunking “Accountability to Donors” Part 4

In this series, I have considered the logic flaws in the argument that organizations should be holding themselves primarily accountable to their donors. So far, I have considered the following questions:

1) Are fully funded / endowed organizations with no donors accountable to no one?
2) Should different levels of giving receive different levels of accountability?
3) Do “donor’s rights” apply equally to volunteers and in-kind donors as they do to cash donors?

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

Today, Post #4:

Are Thousands of Organizations Accountable to ME?
There are thousands of organizations that receive large grants from the various layers of various governments – local government, state / provincial government, federal / national government.

If organizations are primarily accountable to their donors and funders, to whom, exactly, are these organizations accountable?

Are they accountable to the whole government? And what does that really mean? I understand what it means for government to be accountable to the people it governs, but to what or to whom would an organization be accountable if it is accountable TO the government?

Perhaps, then, those grantee organizations are accountable just to the division of the government whose budget provided the funding. Or within that division, perhaps they are accountable to the proposal review team, or to the individual program officer who approved the grant.

Or are those grant recipients accountable to the Division Chief that oversees all those program officers? Or to the elected officials who appointed the Division Chief – the folks to whom that Division Chief is accountable?

But wait – that money didn’t really come from the government. You and I gave that money to the government! So is each and every one of those organizations then accountable directly to each and every taxpayer?

Are they all accountable to ME?

The questions “To whom are we accountable? And for what?” are about more than just dollars and donors. These questions are at the heart of everything community organizations are able to accomplish. And the reason for that is simple: We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for.

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