Checklist for Accountability (By Section)

Actions every charitable organization can take to strengthen transparency and accountability.

Building an organization committed to the highest ethical standards demands more than just following the law: it also requires fostering practices that create an environment of transparency, accountability and integrity.

The steps listed below will help every charitable organization reassure its stakeholders of its commitment to upholding the public trust vital to earning support and fulfilling its mission.

Creating an accountable organization is an ongoing process. Board and staff members should review recommended practices regularly, and adjust their rules, methods and communications as needed.

Fortunately, no one has to start this work from scratch. There are many resources available as models, and we encourage you to share your policies and practices with colleagues.

Independent Sector recommends that each charitable organization take the following steps to demonstrate accountability. Adapt them to fit your unique circumstances, and check back for updates as the checklist is expanded.

  1. Develop a Culture of Accountability and Transparency
  2. Adopt a Statement of Values and Code of Ethics
  3. Adopt a Conflict of Interest Policy
  4. Ensure that the Board of Directors Understands and Can Fulfill Its Financial Responsibilities
  5. Conduct Independent Financial Reviews, Particularly Audits
  6. Ensure the Accuracy of and Make Public Your Organization’s Form 990
  7. Be Transparent
  8. Establish and Support a Policy on Reporting Suspected Misconduct or Malfeasance (“Whistleblower Protection Policy”)
  9. Remain Current with the Law

The Checklist for Accountability combines recommendations made by Independent Sector and the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector. It was developed with the additional input of the Ethics and Accountability Committee and Communications and Marketing Advisory Task Force.

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