Philanthropy and the Limits of Accountability: A Relationship of Respect and Clarity



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A new report, Philanthropy and the Limits of Accountability: A Relationship of Respect and Clarity, a joint effort by the Kettering Foundation and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), explores how the field of organized philanthropy might think about responding to a growing movement for accountability and transparency.

The report, written by Kettering Foundation program officer Brad Rourke, distills the results of three roundtables, in addition to one-on-one conversations, with philanthropic and nonprofit leaders about how the issues of transparency and accountability might soon impact the field of philanthropy.

Among the report’s main findings:

  • Philanthropy is at a crossroads as it experiences increased pressure from all sides to solve public problems and to be more accountable for outcomes.
  • Transparency may be a necessary component of accountability, but it is not sufficient and too often may be obfuscating.
  • Strategic philanthropy may paradoxically tend to make philanthropic organizations seem less accountable and more risk averse.
  • Accountability isn’t just about data transparency. It’s also about relationships.

The full report, which includes a foreword by Chris Gates, executive director of PACE, is available as a free download.

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