Is your not-for-profit organization accountable? You say, of course it is! After all, you have an accountant, right? You record all revenues and expenses. If you are a charity, you report annually to the Canada Revenue Agency, and you stay focused on your charitable purpose. Your fundraising and other activity is legal and ethical. Your board of directors oversees your work transparently; you avoid and declare any conflicts of interest. You have covered the basics – congratulations!
(NOTE: If you are just getting your not-for-profit started, you can find the basics of legal accountability in Canada’s Not-For-Profit Guide, or Ontario’s Not-For-Profit Incorporator’s Handbook, and how to Incorporate a Charity in Ontario.)
But legal accountability is just the beginning. Not-for-profit accountability also includes understanding what you owe your clients and the community you serve. Have you identified real needs, and do you truly address them? Are you just duplicating services available elsewhere, or did you truly find a gap in services or a client population that faces barriers to access? It means honest and ongoing evaluation of your programs and services, reporting on and learning from the results. It means comparing those results to community needs, and measuring the impact on the community.
Get the Edge On Your Competition
Why is this necessary? If you make it part of your organizational culture, accountability gives you a strong advantage when you apply for public funding. Government funders want to support success, because they are accountable themselves to the taxpaying public and in the political arena. Before the funding flows, they want assurance they are getting value for the public funds they entrust to you. You will catch the eye of government funders with clear evidence that you have accountability built into your organizational culture.
GrantX has the experience and expertise you need to ensure that your grant application or funding proposal highlights all the ways you are accountable. For example, are you really as connected to the needs of the community as you claim? The funder is relying on YOU to be the expert. They expect that you are holding yourself accountable to the community by meeting real needs, by gathering feedback from clients served, and using this information to tailor programs and services.
Become a Trusted Partner for the Long Term
Accountability also includes what you owe your staff and volunteers. Do you acknowledge and support their contributions? Are successes celebrated, and just as importantly, does the organization strive to honestly learn from its setbacks and missteps? How do you resolve conflict and how do you ensure a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace?
A culture of accountability builds trust, helps attract and retain quality staff, and keeps you focused on your mission. If you don’t build a culture of accountability, you will never create a strong and positive ongoing relationship with government funders.
At GrantX, we want your not-for-profit to do more than just land one grant or fund one project. Our goal is to position your organization for growth and long-term success. Contact us today for a free consultation on how to get the GrantX advantage.
FURTHER READING: You can find a useful overview of the Basics of Accountability for not-for-profits prepared by Charity Central, part of the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.
December 1, 2021