Improving charity accountability: lessons from the Scottish experience

Diarmuid McDonnell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


This article examines the relevance and effectiveness of a charity accountability monitoring program in Scotland. The Scottish charity sector is vibrant and growing but the regulatory regime is in flux. Drawing upon a novel panel dataset of 21,322 observations on 5,124 organizations for the period 2007-2013, this study examines charity accountability from the perspective of the regulator and analyzes its attempts to encourage acceptable norms and practices in the sector. The results reveal that a majority of these charities trigger accountability concerns and a minority do so persistently; however, this study finds no link between these concerns and negative organizational outcomes such as public complaints, regulatory intervention, or charity dissolution. The article suggests that Scotland’s regulatory body should collaborate with the charity sector to reconsider the program’s intended impact and priorities, and reflects on alternative indicators of accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-746
Number of pages22
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number4
Early online date1 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • performance accountability
  • nonprofit regulation
  • public confidence
  • charity accountability
  • financial accountability


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