Accountability in the Scottish charitable context: managing disparate masters

Julia Smith, Lesley Miller

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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We examine the nature of accounting and accountability within a small charitable organization. Using primary-source data from face-to-face fieldwork, supported by additional responses and data from donors and regulators, we consider the tensions that can arise in seeking to meet the needs of many stakeholders. We see upwards accountability as arising from a need to report to donors, regulators, and financial authorities; and downwards accountability coming from a need to provide a service to the end-users of the service provided. It is not impossible for both upwards and downwards accountability to co-exist, but this complication means that the charity can be torn between stakeholders in discharging its responsibilities. To simplify procedures and clarify objectives, and thereby ease the process of accountability to multiple stakeholders, we propose a new Charitable Balanced Scorecard (CBSC) and show how this might be applied to our own particular case. We argue that its application to other charities can provide a focus and clarity that will enable them to more effectively meet the needs of their stakeholders, whomsoever they may be.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2018
EventBritish Accounting & Finance Association (BAFA) Annual Conference 2018 - Central Hall Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Apr 201811 Apr 2018


ConferenceBritish Accounting & Finance Association (BAFA) Annual Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • accountability
  • small charitable organization
  • stakeholder needs
  • Charitable Balanced Scorecard (CBSC)


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