Friday, March 22, 2013

Latinos and Latino philanthropy

 By Kristen Schulte

The growth of the Latino population “in the United States over the last half-century has been one of the most dynamic demographic shifts in American history," as reported by Gutierrez in a report titled Report on Latinos and Philanthropy in the United States.


What does this mean for Latino nonprofits and Latino philanthropy?

Latino communities' “rapid growth makes this group an important factor in the demographic future of the United States”(Gutierrez, pg. 1) which has been recognized by many in for-profit businesses for the potential of sales and revenues in Latino communities. Latino nonprofits and Latino philanthropy will need to access Latino donors in order to support and “expand” in the future (Gutierrez, pg. 1).


What type of growth are we talking about?

The Hispanic population growth, by 2025 will be the “largest racial or/and ethnic group” in the state of “California comprising of 43% of the state’s total population”. “And perhaps most significantly, by 2050 the United States’ Latino population is expected to reach 96.5 million” of the nation’s total population (Gutierrez, pg. 1).

To shed some light on this growing population is a YouTube video developed by Hispanics in Philanthropy titled Cultures of Giving.


Historical roots of Latino charitable giving

The Latino community “has had a long-standing tradition” in the United States of supporting informal, traditional voluntary associations, which is “generally done through organizations or causes that are close to the heart of individuals”, like that of the majority U.S. culture, according to Kari Pardoe.

Pardoe found that “Informal giving is a historical value of the Latino community for more than 500 years...Formal charitable giving in the 1600s and 1700s in Latin America took place through the local church and affiliated organizations." The Roman Catholic Church furnished a range of services, primarily in these three areas:

•    Financial
•    Legal
•    Social services

Particularly for needy families, although informal giving to kinship networks, both in the United States and abroad, was (and continues to be) a characteristic of Latino philanthropy. Figure 1 is a timeline of significant historical events for Latino philanthropy to gain a perspective of the historical foundation that Latino philanthropy stand on. -->

Late 1800
Latino groups in the United States began developing mutual aid societies. The organizations gave relatively informal aid in a variety of areas.
Late 1900
Latino funds began to be created to better respond to the unique needs of Hispanic communities
Successful Formal Institutions of U.S. Hispanic Philanthropy

Hispanic Development Fund in Kansas City, Missouri was founded.
National association of Hispanic Philanthropic leaders called Hispanics in Philanthropy is founded
Latino Community Foundation in San Francisco was founded under the “premise of being an organization that would help Hispanics and Latinos help themselves”.
Kellogg Foundation gave support to a group of Hispanic funds for technical assistance, including training in the establishment of endowments.
Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame was founded and plays “a vital role in fostering understanding of the US Latino experience”.
Hispanic business community established the New American Alliance, a membership organization devoted to promoting Hispanic charity, states the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

Figure 1: Latinos' historical roots of the world of philanthropy are an indicator to the future growth as the 21st century’s number of formal Latino nonprofits has grown rapidly.

 One example is the organization discussed in this video titled Hispanics in Philanthropy in 5 minutes from the Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Moving Forward: Significant Factors

Being aware of the opportunity present in Latino Nonprofits and Latino Philanthropy is important in strengthen Latino leaders and Latino nonprofits in communities.

The first suggested processes is to understand what motivates Latinos to make donations in the first place, Latino and other nonprofits should be aware of several significant factors.

  1. Administrators must “be aware of the positive influence of payroll deduction” on Hispanic charitable giving.
  2. “There is some evidence in the literature that Hispanic givers prefer to donate through Hispanic community funds and federated campaigns
  3. “Professionals raising money for educational or health organizations may want to emphasize the use of telephone solicitation in their annual development plans. Hispanic charitable givers who responded to a phone solicitation were four times more likely to donate to health organizations than Hispanic givers who did not respond to a phone solicitation.”
  4. Faith-based community organizations may also have special appeal to Hispanic givers." As previously stated, Hispanics have a history of giving to the Roman Catholic Church. According to this analysis, “Hispanic charitable givers who were members of a religious organization and those who felt a religious obligation to give to charity were more likely to donate to a religious organization” 
  5. “More specifically, Hispanic charitable givers who also volunteered their time were more likely to make a donation to these categories of organizations. As Hispanic volunteers become more involved in their community organizations, like others they become more invested in the organization, which can lead to more consistent donations and larger charitable gifts in the future” 
 By understanding which circumstances would encourage Latinos contribute more, nonprofit organizations can systematically and successfully tap into Latino sources of wealth to be able to support the needs of the Latino community.



If you would like more information on the topics of Latino philanthropy, here are a few useful links:

Hispanics in Philanthropy Call for Action

Shakira's speech at the swearing-in ceremony for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) Lab - The 2010 Census What the Numbers Mean and How Funders Can Respond

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How to wrangle up philanthropy resources in rural areas

By Holly Meyer

Running a nonprofit in rural areas such as Wyoming can lead to many funding challenges since you’re dealing with a smaller population and fewer resources.

Here are some tips to help you improve your funding sources:

Get better at telling your organization’s story

Try talking to possible funders as if they are your friends.  They may end up funding your organization as though you were all in a long-term relationship.

Here is an exercise for you to try:  How do you explain what your organization does to your friends and family?  Use this same method to explain your organization to possible funders.

Blaise Lucey has a blog which shows the power of telling a story.  You find the link here: She gives great tips on how to find your story and how to tell your story.

Show sustainability

Demonstrate to possible funders that you have a long-term plan to fund your organization outside of their contribution.  Funders want to know they are contributing to a cause that will be around for a long time.

Here is an exercise for you to try: Pretend everyone in your organization got up and left to join the circus.  What plan does your organization have to ensure it will continue on beyond current staffing levels?

The following website gives some ideas on how to plan sustainability.  Tiffany Applegate clearly defines what needs to go into a sustainability plan.

 Just do it!

Practice makes perfect! Here is another exercise for you to try:  Make up a list of potential funders.  Do some research on their background and see if they would be a good candidate to fund your organization.  

There are several steps you can follow when making a fundraising plan for your particular nonprofit.  See what Joanne Fritz has to say about these steps:

This video will help you see society’s benefit from philanthropy:

As this video shows, most donors give $100 or less per gift.  Little gifts can add up to a lot!  
Hopefully this will help instill in you a sense of inspiration towards getting funding for your small organization. 
Another helpful resource is Philanthropy Northwest. This organization is helpful in connecting members to trends and resources in northwest giving. 
Now it’s time for you to get out there and get the support your organization needs!  Thanks for reading my blog on rural philanthropy!  Please comment on anything that was helpful for you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Charitable fundraising vs. a culture of philanthropy: What is the significance for your nonprofit organization?

By Alyssa Kaelin

Let’s take a look to see how making the switch from every-day fundraising to a culture of philanthropy can help take your rural nonprofit organization to the next level.

Why do we need a culture of philanthropy?

Inspiration for this post comes from a quote found in New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising (note: subscription required to access). In his 2004 article, titled  "Transforming philanthropy: Generativity, philanthropy, and the reflective practitioner," author James Hodge offers this quote and commentary:
"And as Viktor Frankl reminds us, ‘It is not a matter of technique per se, but rather the spirit behind the technique that is important’ (Frankl, 1984, pg. 29) Too often, development officers and consultants focus on fundraising techniques rather than on the spirit of philanthropy, particularly in the education of newcomers to our profession.  Hence, there is a need to transform ourselves and our work” (pg. 84).

What is the difference between charity, fundraising, and philanthropy?

In the book Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice,  Michael J. Worth (2012) defines them as the following:
  • Charity: “Giving intended to meet current individual human needs or to alleviate current human suffering” (pg.20)
    • a type of organization to fit this description would be one that feeds the homeless or aids victims of a natural disaster
    • donations made to charity are often impulsive and emotionally driven as a result of a crisis or disaster
      • e.g., Hurricane Sandy in 2012 or the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001
  • Fundraising: “an activity undertaken with the goal of eliciting charitable or philanthropic giving” (pg. 269)
    • Worth illustrates that “fundraising is related to philanthropy as preaching is to faith” and “one is intended to inspire the other” (pg. 269)
  • Philanthropy: “giving to strengthen the infrastructure of society, that is, to develop institutions that serve human needs or enhance human development over the long run” (pg. 268) 
    • in Greek means “love for humanity”
    • thoughtful gifts made for long-term enrichment in society
      • e.g., donations to universities (alumni association) or hospitals

Key point: You don’t have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist!

Charity giving is often thought of as being more realistic for those of us on a tight budget.  In reality, anyone can become a philanthropist if they desire to contribute towards long-term goals.
 To learn how to start your own philanthropic mission, check out this short video.

Now that we know what philanthropy is and who it is for, let’s see how philanthropy applies to nonprofits.

5 steps to forming a philanthropic culture in your nonprofit organization

Step 1.  Start by defining a philanthropic culture.
Karla Williams, author of the article “Create a philanthropic culture in your nonprofit” (pg. 6), states that “Culture is the force and the spirit that bring internal values, attitudes, and beliefs into sync, giving an organization the power to connect with external constituents and secure outside resources.”
Karla then goes on to provide a list of common characteristics for a philanthropic culture:
  • “There is an interdisciplinary development team”
  • “Everyone has contact with donors”
  • “Donors are valued, not for their money alone, but for their input"
  • “Development costs are seen as an investment”
  • “A volunteer from the target group heads campaigns”
  • “Donors receive funding reports, in addition to recognition and appreciation”
  • “There is more than cooperation- there is true collaboration”
  • “More time is allocated to keeping donors than acquiring new ones”
Karen Eber Davis also lists additional characteristics of a philanthropic culture including:
Step 2.  Encourage staff members to become philanthropists themselves through giving.
In her TED Talk video, You are the future of philanthropy, Katherine Fulton describes the benefits the average person has towards collaborative philanthropy and giving not only money, but time and innovation to change the face of philanthropy in the future.

Step 3.  Think outside your organization
The spirit of philanthropy doesn’t have to stay within the walls of an organization or community- think BIG, think GLOBAL
Step 4. Help staff understand that philanthropy is everyone’s business
John Jacobs, co-founder of the Life is Good company, describes how their company is developing a culture of philanthropy.
    Step 5.  Believe in the power of philanthropy and leaving a legacy.
    James M. Hodge (pg. 89) provides key practical points in changing philanthropic fundraising:
    •  “Our profession must make a transformational shift from fundraising to moral training, to believing in the noble role of philanthropy and its transformative power in peoples’ lives.”
    • “Development officers must consider what master key questions help people lead well-examined lives. These are questions focused on meaning and making a difference, on leaving a legacy and how donors can be remembered for a life of giving back to the world.”

    Let’s get to work. Gone are the days of emotion-driven, one-time charitable giving for your organization.  Today I encourage you to replace donor-pools with lasting relationships, obligation with understanding, and impulsive action with love and collaboration.  It will take time, but we can do it.

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    Wake up: Is your nonprofit board prepared?

    By Samuel Bertagnole

    Financial accountability is one of the primary responsibilities of any nonprofit board; however, with a slow economy and the government cutting back on money for non-profit organizations, financial planning is more crucial than ever.

    Wake-up call

    The collapse of the 123 year Hull House should have been a wake up call to all nonprofit organizations. The Hull House, started in 1889 by Jane Addams, provided various services to thousands of people in Chicago. The “challenging economy” with increased demand and decreased support was blamed for the failure. While the economy contributed to the failure, the non-profit’s tax information suggests the organization was in trouble even before the economic downturn.

    The Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workgroup believes that thousands of nonprofits are threatened with closure.

    The Nonprofits Assistance Fund states that economic troubles are not limited to small organizations; larger groups are even less likely to have adequate finances.

    What can your nonprofit board do to avoid financial problems? 

    The Nonprofit Operating Reserve Initiative Workgroup believes that organizations with adequate operating reserves will “emerge from this current economic crisis in a stronger financial position, positioned to withstand the next challenge that arises.”

    A study by the Urban Institute found that 57% of the Washington region nonprofits had too little reserve and 28% did not have any operating reserves.

    What your board should know about operating reserves?

    Operating reserves are unrestricted assets that can be used to support the organization during times of emergency. According to, reserves can be used to “stabilize a nonprofit’s finances” during times of low cash flow due to delayed payments and unexpected repairs. However, they caution against using operating reserves to replace income. “Reserves should be used to solve timing problems, not deficit problems.”

    Rick Moyers wrote an excellent series of blogs describing what nonprofit boards need to know about operating reserves. One entitled What Operating Reserves Are and Why They Matter includes a great explanation of what an operating reserve is and what it is not.

    With economic uncertainty regarding sources of income, operating reserves are essential to an organizations ability to function. In addition, they allow organizations to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities.

    Common myths about operating reserves

    In another blog post entitled There’s No Penalty for Having Reserves, Moyers discusses two common myths that board members associate with cash reserves.

    • First – Nonprofits cannot operate at a profit
    • Second – Accumulating reserves makes a nonprofit appear less deserving of funds
    According to Moyers, both these ideas imply that there is a penalty for building operating reserves. However, that is not the case. He points out that

    • Nonprofits can legally have an operating reserve that equals less than three years of their current operating costs
    • Most people would prefer to support a well-managed organization rather than one in financial crisis.


    How much money is needed? It depends

    There are many guidelines that suggest nonprofit boards have a minimum reserve that equals 1 month of operating expenses, but no more than 2 years of reserve. Most suggest that board members maintain between 3 and 6 months worth of operating expenses in reserve.

    In an article entitled The Yin and Yang of Operating Reserves: What You Need to Know, Kate Barr suggests that board members take a closer look at these numbers. She states that “standard calculations don’t take some important variables into account, like the stability of the nonprofit’s cash receipts.” Her article contains a table that allows board members to set an operating reserve based on their specific income characteristics.

    The board’s role in creating and maintaining an operating reserve

    While some organizations wait until they need to use the reserve to discuss how it will be managed, the Nonprofits Assistance Fund suggests that board members create a specific reserve policy first. They state that this policy should guide staff and board members in planning and decision making.

    The Nonprofit Assistance Fund recommends that an operating reserve policy should consist of the following:
    • Purpose and size of reserve
    • How the reserve will be built
    • How the money will be used
    • Who has the authority to use the reserve
    • How the reserve will be replenished

    Pat Hanley with the Social & Civic Institute states that such policies help boards avoid future confusion about financial reserves.

    In her article, Kate Barr says that, “Without such a policy, reserve funds tend to be gradually spent down over time, and aren’t available when they’re really needed.” She also warns nonprofits that reserves should be used to help an organization provide services, and that it should not “create an untouchable bank balance to admire.”

    Boards need to move their priority from financial accountability to financial planning if they wish to survive difficult economic times. Constance Woloschuk in an article entitled Commitment of Nonprofit Board to Financial Sustainability suggests that in addition to financial accountability, nonprofit board members need to integrate financial planning into their planning. She offers several suggestions to help boards make this transition.

    Call to action

    The Nonprofit Operating Reserves Initiative Workgroup states “If your organization doesn’t have a policy, establish one. If your organization has a policy but has not reviewed it in the last three years, pull it out and evaluate it.”

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    Boards: Why you should recruit & how

     By Jennifer Hansen

    Anyone who has served on or worked with a nonprofit board knows that one of the most difficult tasks a board faces is finding new board members.  The attempt to achieve success as a board lies in who serve on the board; who serves on the board is a result of recruitment.

    So how can we strategically recruit those who would benefit our organization the most effectively, and what challenges will we face along the way? Below are some of my thoughts on recruitment, with help from some of my favorite articles.

    Across-the-board challenges

    Depending on the organization, there can be hundreds of different challenges in recruiting new board members, let's focus on the basics, the ones that everyone encounters.

    1. Time - Most sources you find will tell you that this is the biggest issue.  Read more about lack of time here in an article from BoardSource.  In addition to this, many board responsibilities require attendance to more events that just meetings.  It can be hard to recruit while holding a list of responsibilities they must serve.
    2. The Full Package - The search for members who possess the proper skill set needed of board members, connections, time, commitment to mission, as well as the duties of care, loyalty, and obedience.  Finding potential members of these qualities is as hard as it sounds...often, the good ones are taken.
    3. Over-Commitment - So often, we in the nonprofit community are so passionate about what we do, it is hard to give up on something.  You've been there: not enough volunteers, something needs done, and no on has time.  So we (you) step up because we hate to see our organization go without and as a result, if you serve as a board member, you often serve on more than one board.
    These are the top three challenges that you will often face when attempting to recruit new board members.  But don't get discouraged!  There's more:

    See the results of an excellent survey from execs and board members here that discusses more challenges.  This is a better layout of the survey after the BoardSource article above.

    Six Roadblocks... is a great resource in terms of challenges local nonprofits face.  I found it very useful when trying to recruit members myself.

    Another great article by Jan Masaoka discusses mistakes made by boards here.  All the mistakes aren't about recruitment, but you can relate many to your board's approach to recruitment.

    Now that you know what you're up against, let's talk about some basic strategies to help you overcome and recruit some great board members!

    Broad board basics

    Why is it important to have an effective recruitment strategy?  Making a major investment in recruitment can have long term positive effects.  Without investing some time into who will serve on your board, you may encounter a lot of problems.
    1. Better Board, Bigger Impact is a short article discussing some basics to review before tackling recruitment strategies.
    2. Terrie Temkin provides a list of basics here that you may want to consider before creating a strategy.  Skim the list and find things that you'd like, eliminate what you don't.  Everything doesn't work for everyone.
    3. Debra Beck gives us a short explanation of why and how to recruit here.  This article would be a great way to begin a recruitment discussion during a board meeting.
    Big board strategy

    Here are some of the ways organizations organize the recruitment of new members:
    1. Committees - This can be used many ways.  Create a committee of board members (maybe include a volunteer and staffer) to come up with strategies to recruit.  They could also pool a group of people they think would be effective to the organization and create a matrix to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate. A great presentation and example can be found here.
    2. Elections - This is how I came to serve on a board, I was elected by those I was going to represent.  If there are several candidates willing (you're awfully lucky), holding an election can be a fair way to determine who fills the position.  However, in this case (and every case for that matter) make sure each candidate has a clear understanding of all roles and responsibilities they will be held accountable for.
    3. Invitations - A great way to obtain new board members is to ask volunteers, donors, ex-staffers.  Narrow down options using a matrix-like strategy like the one suggested above.  Once you have a candidate(s) in mind, invite them to be a part of your board.  Better yet, invite several, hold a forum to ask/answer questions of each other and see what happens.
    You may use parts of all three strategies to determine who would best serve your board.  There are some great ways to combine the ideas. Here in a list of successful recruitment tips provided by

    Recruitment is difficult, there is no doubt about it.  But don't settle, stay true to the mission of your organization.  There are ways to find people willing to serve on the board of your organization that will have the interests of your program at heart.  Start organizing a strategy as soon as possible to find them!

    Thursday, March 7, 2013

    Accountability: How do we measure it?

    By David Simkins

    What is accountability?  The simplest definition is someone who is held responsible for their actions.  But in the business or nonprofit world, it goes into much more detail.  

    A report from the Harvard Business School defines accountability as “the processes through which an organization makes a commitment to respond to and balance the needs of stakeholders in its decision making processes and activities, and delivers against this commitment”  This report also talks about four basic characteristics to the definition for accountability, which I outline below:

    Characteristics of Accountability

    1. "Transparency, which involves collecting information and making it available and accessible for public scrutiny;
    2. "Answerability or Justification, which requires providing clear reasoning for actions and decisions, including those not adopted, so that they may reasonably be questioned;
    3. "Compliance, through the monitoring and evaluation of procedures and outcomes, combined with transparency in reporting those findings; and,
    4. "Enforcement or Sanctions for shortfalls in compliance, justification, or transparency" (Alnoor Ebrahim, Harvard Business School)

    The Need for Accountability

    So why do we have an accountability program?  Why do we care to evaluate our nonprofit organization at all?  Typically, something happens to make us take note that we must be held accountable.  Either something in the industry or something in our own organization happens that makes us or our stakeholders determine that from now on we will be held accountable.  But not always, because many times money can be tied to this decision.  If there is federal money attached to this nonprofit then it will be required by The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 to have an accountability program or evaluation program of some sort as pointed out by the United States Department of Labor. 
    I think for a smaller nonprofit company, it makes sense to have some sort of an accountability or evaluation system because it lets your stakeholders know where you stand.  On a large scale nonprofit company level, I think it is essential.
    As is pointed out in Nonprofit Management Principles and Practice by Michael J. Worth, nonprofits are held accountable to the rule of law, self-regulation, and transparency.  The rule of law is simply that they must follow the law including all IRS forms and things such as nondiscrimination and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which is basically a law named after Senator Paul Sarbanes and Representative Michael Oxley that dictate corporations must follow certain laws. 
    Self-regulation for nonprofits is a benefit that was reviewed by Congress in June 2005, (Worth, p. 136).  With this autonomy the organization must practice good governance with ethical behavior.  These include financial issues, board meetings and board issues, maintaining the mission, and maintaining stakeholder contacts. 
    Transparency just means to be open and honest about the nonprofits business for everyone to see including the donors, the media, and the stakeholders. 

    Measuring Accountability

    Transparency helps when it comes to measuring performance.  Nonprofits have a few options for measuring performance.  Do they measure their performance based on their finances?  That certainly would paint a picture of success at sustaining the business side; but it doesn’t tell much about how they are doing with employees, customers, stakeholders, or other nonprofits.  Do nonprofits measure against their peers?  That would tell them how they stack up against other nonprofits regarding donors and financials and possibly stakeholders; but again, it wouldn’t tell much about how they are doing regarding employees or their mission. So my recommendation, and the trend, is for nonprofits to measure themselves against their mission.  This would cover all bases and give an overall picture of how they are doing.  Most importantly, this would let the stakeholders know how nonprofits are doing compared to how they want to do.
    The bottom line is this: as long as we stay transparent and stay true to our mission, we can be accountable to ourselves.  This will make our board happy which in turn will make our stakeholders happy which in turn should result in a successful nonprofit organization.

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Accountability: Does one size fit all? Should it?

    By Cynthia MacDuff

    Accountability seems to bring about collective groans amongst nonprofit employees and board members, invoking long lists of requirements that simply do not work for all agencies. But accountability does not have to be terrible if we take different pieces of accountability and customize them to fit the needs of our own agency.   

    Internal accountability

    Internal accountability can also be thought of as self-governance.  Self-governance is what its name implies; nonprofits are responsible for overseeing themselves and making sure they operates in sound, legal, and ethical manners.  Self-governance encompasses legal requirements, effective governance by board members, watching financials, and fundraising in a responsible manner.  According to Michael Worth in Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice, self-governance is one way to have deeper accountability without having excessive amounts of laws and regulations imposed on nonprofits allowing nonprofits to dictate accountability that works best for each agency while following basic standards.  Nonprofits are given the autonomy to govern themselves and oversee themselves without external pressures or watchdogs. 

    However, just because an agency chooses to self-govern does not mean that they are left floating alone in the vast ocean of accountability without a life vest.  Nonprofits can access a variety of resources to help provide guidance on self-governance.  These are just some of the many resources available to help nonprofits self-govern.  

    Self-governance does not have to be just a collection of policies or checklists followed by staff and board members.  Internal accountability can also involve integrating ethical practices to the workplace which can help further strengthen self-governance practices such as policies and procedures.     

    External accountability

    According to Michael Worth, in Nonprofit Management: Principles and Practice, external accountability methods such as charity watchdogs apply their own sets of rigorous standards and evaluations on nonprofits.  Common charity watchdogs are U.S News and World Report and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.  Some states have even come up with their own standards for external accountability for nonprofits such as the Maryland Association of Nonprofits which offer nonprofits the opportunity to achieve a “standard of excellence.”       
    To be considered accountable by external accountability groups, nonprofits are held to strict standards in the areas of how money is spent, how the organization is governed, honesty, and willingness to be transparent.  These areas are similar to those followed by self-governance methods.  The difference is that in self-governance, organizations evaluates themselves in these areas while with external accountability, charity watchdog groups evaluate nonprofits in these areas.
    So why would any agency willingly submit to being evaluated by an outside group when it could self evaluate instead? Some chose this option because there are certain benefits that come with meeting the requirements of watchdog groups.  Nonprofits who are compliant with charity watchdogs can give potential donors an externally-validated peace of mind knowing that their funds will be used in a sound manner.  Organizations such as the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance produce annual reports listing nonprofits that meet the Standards of Charity Accountability.  This could give nonprofits a competitive edge, as some donors may be more willing to give to organizations that are listed in the annual report or have some form of accreditation.

    Take an inventory of strengths and weaknesses

    So now we come to the heart of the matter: is my organization demonstrating accountability? What type of accountability is my organization using? Is there room for improvement? These are just a few of the many questions we should all ask ourselves in order to get a better understanding our agencies’ accountability strengths and weaknesses.

    Customize your nonprofit's accountability

    I wish I could offer a “one size fits all” solution on how to make your agency truly accountable, but unfortunately “one size fits all” accountability does not exist.  Instead of offering a perfect solution I offer you this: take some time to reflect on the accountability strengths and weaknesses of your organization and take inventory of what is working for your organization and what is lacking. 
    If self-governance has left some holes in your organization, consider whether borrowing components from charity watchdog groups will help fill this goal.  If your nonprofit is heavily relying on laws to dictate accountability, experiment with pieces of self-governance. Do not be afraid to prioritize in a way that makes sense for your organization.  Make accountability personal to your organization, not just by following an accountability checklist but by making accountability a part of your organizational culture that all members commit to personally.
    After all, accountability should not be something you do because you are required to, but rather accountability should be one more opportunity to demonstrate the strength, successes, and impact of your organization.