Accountability and transparency: A stakeholder perspective

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

(Published on Charity Finance)

The relationship between large charities and the mainstream media has been highly contentious over the past few years, with negative coverage of matters concerning safeguarding, cost ratios, governance failures and abuse allegations making news cycles recurrently.

Consequently, confidence in large charities was reported by the Charity Commission in 2018 to have remained at the all-time low levels of 2016, with negative media coverage being cited as a primary reason for low levels of trust by the research participants surveyed. Media discourse therefore undeniably has a powerful impact on public perceptions of charities –– and as such, it is of paramount importance for charities to actively work to regain control of the narrative to help restore trust.

The Trustees Annual Report (‘TAR’) in particular is a key public communications tool that provides an opportunity for charities to give an account to their stakeholders of successes, failures and how charitable resources are used. This process of discharging accountability to stakeholders through transparent reporting practices is vital, as empowering stakeholder groups with information helps to ensure that a power balance is maintained between the charity and these groups. Charity stakeholders include but are not limited to staff, volunteers, service users/ beneficiaries, communities, funders and creditors.

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