Checklist: Accountability

By governance expert Rodney Buse

Accountability is a key part of governance. But to whom are we accountable? The law requires registered charities to be accountable to the Charity Commission, but there are other important stakeholders - not least our beneficiaries.

Accountability to wider audiences might have been difficult in the past, but now we have new technology. We are all familiar with email, blogs and newsletters, which offer many opportunities to engage key stakeholders and be accountable to them.

The best charities recognise that they have a duty to be accountable to the wider community for their performance and for the major policy positions they take. An annual report is barely adequate when new technology provides ample opportunities for charities to explain and justify their actions.

Many charities wish to engage in advocacy for a cause, something that benefits from the support of beneficiaries and other stakeholders. It is right that local voices will be ever more important, and if we fail to be properly accountable to our key stakeholders, we might well surrender the right to represent them.

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