- Sector growth. It is out pacing available resources.
- A lack of common standards. Perpetuating this challenge is the diversity of organizations, missions and operations within the sector.
- Doing ‘business’ in the current fiscal climate. Public sector budgets are shrinking faster than philanthropic expansion. Alternative funding sources are needed.
- Inadequate oversight and structural problems. Existing federal and state laws are not enforced.
- Inadequate reporting on the sector. Identifying abuses is challenging within existing reporting structures.
- Media scrutiny. High profile fraud and mismanagement cases have hurt the sector as a whole.
Aviv offered five recommendations for addressing those public trust issues:
- Promote transparency. Find ways to identify and separate abusers from the ethical majority in the sector.
- Demand stronger enforcement and oversight. Advocate for improved federal and state oversight and enforcement processes.
- Improve self-regulation. Initiate a national effort to develop uniform standards of good practice.
- Improve the practice of individual nonprofits. Individual organizations must be prepared to take voluntary action to become more accountable in key areas (e.g., governance, transparency, fund-raising, conflicts of interest).
- Increase awareness. The sector must take steps to educate the public, policymakers and opinion leaders about the sector and its issues – including accountability.
One of the better starting points I’ve found for exploring accountability is Independent Sector’s overview of the issue, found here.