Accountability.Org: Online Disclosure by Nonprofits

Paper by Joannie Tremblay-Boire and Aseem Prakash: “Why do some nonprofits signal their accountability via unilateral website disclosures? We develop an Accountability Index to examine the websites of 200 U.S. nonprofits ranked by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. We expect nonprofits’ incentives for website disclosures will be shaped by their organizational and sectoral characteristics. Our analysis suggests that nonprofits appearing frequently in the media disclose more accountability information while nonprofits larger in size disclose less. Religion-related nonprofits tend to disclose less information, suggesting that religious bonding enhances trust and reduce incentives for self-disclosure. Health nonprofits disclose less information, arguably because government-mandated disclosures reduce marginal benefits from voluntary disclosures. Education nonprofits, on the other hand, tend to disclose more accountability information perhaps because they supply credence goods. This research contributes to the emerging literature on websites as accountability mechanisms by developing a new index for scholars to use and proposing new hypotheses based on the corporate social responsibility literature.”

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