The Last Word: Social Impact Architects’ Suzanne Smith on ‘Radical Accountability’ for Nonprofits

The latest Edelman Trust Barometer revealed a troubling trend: trust is at all-time low, and nonprofits have lost their position as the most trusted institution in the United States. This finding was the impetus for Dallas-based Suzanne Smith, Founder and CEO of Social Impact Architects, to write a blog post calling for nonprofits to demonstrate "radical accountability."

“How well-trusted are you as an organization? Is the trust connected to the organization or an individual (which isn’t sustainable)?”

Suzanne Smith
Founder and CEO
Social Impact Architects
.…on how nonprofits can practice “radical accountability” to reverse a trend in declining trust.

In a call to action for nonprofits to demonstrate “radical accountability,” Dallas-based Smith wrote a blog post on her Social Impact Architects website that sets the stakes and points a way forward.

Smith was dismayed to learn that “according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer, trust was not only at an all-time low, but also nonprofits were no longer the most trusted institution in the United States.” Business, she says, now holds that title. Smith asks, “How did this happen and how do we address it?”

Here are excerpts from key points in her post:

Trust matters to everyone—donors, employees and volunteers. “For better or worse, the actions of even a single nonprofit can influence the public’s opinion about the sector as a whole, despite all the organizations out there that are doing everything right.” 

What has caused the decline? “First, there is a perception issue with the public’s belief in the social sector’s capacity to create and sustain impact… Second, we have a trust issue because we have a nonprofit issue. In 2018, a journalist from The Boston Globe identified more than 1,100 nonprofits that had been involved in some form of fraud or embezzlement… Third, we have a transparency gap. Transparency has become an expectation in our 21st-century culture, but too few organizations are openly communicating their successes and failures.”

But there is reason to be optimistic. “Nearly half of respondents in Edelman Trust Barometer saw nonprofits as a unifying force. So, part of our collective work to leverage this and change negative perceptions is to elevate our efforts around what we at Social Impact Architects like to call ‘radical accountability.'”

You can read her full post by going here.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.

Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.

One quick signup, and you’re done.

R E A D   N E X T