Who’s for shiny new impact?

Dave Pitchford

I hope that Barry Gaberman is wrong in his assertion that the philanthropic community has bumped ‘transparency and accountability’ back into the last century in favour of shiny new ‘assessment, effectiveness and impact’. It reads like we are dropping the hard, all-encompassing graft required by the former so we can develop a comparatively simple reporting environment.

Evidence-based work on transparency and accountability began only recently. Basic definitions are not commonly shared within subsectors, let alone countries. Our analysis of over 1,000 charity annual reports and reviews shows that standards of transparency are currently too low for comparison of the workings of UK charities. As for accountability, it is still capable of firing up heated debate, and most domestic charities – and doubtless philanthropists too – have no inkling of what it means.

As such, the idea of impact reporting leapfrogging over transparency and accountability is faintly disturbing. Work on the latter promises improved structures, processes and beneficiary support. If we prioritize impact reporting instead, we’ll simply be able to see with more clarity the downsides of not dealing with transparency and accountability first.

Dave Pitchford
Managing Editor, Intelligentgiving.com

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