Trust and transparency: Accreditation and impact reporting by Canadian charities

Christopher Nicholas Dougherty

Abstract


This article examines the public reporting of impact, defined as progress towards a charity’s mission and long-term objectives, by Canadian charities through their annual reports. The public reporting behaviour of those accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program is compared with a matched sample of charities that have not sought accreditation. The objective is to explore whether trust-building activities like public disclosures of impact and third-party accreditation are convergent. The study finds that accreditation status correlates with impact measurement and reporting; both trends are linked to organizational size, and accreditation does not appear to be causing charities to increase their disclosures of impact, which suggests that there may be underlying factors driving both behaviours. These findings generally affirm earlier research that correlates organizational size with impact measurement, adding that the effect is weak.

Cet article examine comment les associations caritatives canadiennes, dans leurs rapports annuels, rendent compte de leur impact, c’est-à-dire de leur progrès par rapport à leur mission et à leurs objectifs à long terme. Cette étude compare les comptes rendus d’associations accréditées par le Programme de normes d’Imagine Canada avec un échantillon apparié d’associations qui n’ont pas été accréditées. L’objectif est de déterminer s’il y a convergence parmi les démarches entreprises pour gagner la confiance du public telles que l’accréditation par un tiers et la divulgation d’impact. Cette étude observe que les associations accréditées sont plus enclines à mesurer et à divulguer leur impact; que ces deux pratiques sont plus communes dans les grandes associations; et que l’accréditation à elle seule n’entraîne pas forcément les associations caritatives à divulguer leur impact, ce qui suggère que des facteurs sous-jacents sont peut-être responsables pour les deux pratiques. En général, ces conclusions confirment des recherches antérieures trouvant une corrélation entre la grandeur d’un organisme et le désir de mesurer son impact, bien que ce lien semble être faible.


Keywords


Nonprofit self-regulation; Accreditation; Transparency; Impact reporting; Imagine Canada Standards Program / Autorégulation des organismes à but non lucratif; Accréditation; Transparence; Communication d’impact; Programme de normes d’Imagine Canada

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22230/cjnser.2019v10n1a273

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