The Importance of Accountability as a Nonprofit Organization Leader

When you hear the word accountability, what does it make you think of? Maybe it includes responsibilities or a checklist or just getting things done. Accountability looks different for each leader and organization. No matter what comes to mind, it’s essential to truly understand what accountability is and its importance as a nonprofit leader. 

What is accountability?

To be accountable is defined as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions” [i]

In simpler terms, this means holding yourself responsible for completing the things you’ve set out to do. When looking at responsibilities, these can often include tasks we may not want to do but what we need to do; this is sometimes the most challenging part. However, our actions must align with our goals and timelines when holding ourselves accountable.

What does accountability have to do with me?

First, I want to share a story from my nonprofit journey. I found that I was holding my organization back by not being accountable for my actions. When I first started L.O.V.E. Our Youth, I preferred being a behind-the-scenes person. I didn’t share my organization with others, ask for donations, or put myself in front of a camera. I was in my comfort zone, and I didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t until I reflected on my goals that I could see my actions prevented the organization from reaching the next level.

When I realized this, I understood I needed to hold myself accountable, especially regarding responsibilities outside of my comfort. Once I implemented accountability strategies into my routine, I saw the organization surpass the goals I once struggled to achieve. 

I share this story to emphasize the importance of holding yourself and your actions accountable to the goals you have set out. Take a moment to reflect on your goals and see which areas you are holding yourself back from achieving. Then use accountability strategies to ensure your actions align with those goals – especially for those tasks outside of your comfort zone.

What are some helpful accountability strategies?

  • Find an Accountability Partner
    • I always advocate that you should not be alone on your journey. Finding an accountability partner is a great strategy. This could be another team member, another nonprofit leader, a friend, or a family member. I encourage you to find someone comfortable pushing you to reach these goals when you start to slack. Once you see this partner, share your goals and make plans to check in with each other. Talking about where you are in your journey and reaching those goals can frequently lead to breakthroughs or inspire getting things done.
  • Write Down Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals
    • As a nonprofit leader, I know we have a million things going on at once. It is very easy to forget about long-term and even short-term goals. I genuinely believe that writing these down brings you one step closer to checking them off the to-do list. Start small by writing down your plans for the day, then for bigger goals, add them to a weekly or monthly list. And remember, it’s okay if you don’t finish every goal on time. Sometimes we start projects, and they require more time than we originally thought. It’s crucial that you don’t let this discourage you from achieving them. I encourage you to write your goals down right now and look at them every day.
  • Review Your Performance
    • A crucial part of accountability is reviewing your performance. This was how I learned I was holding my organization back in the first place. One way to do this is to consider your goals for the past day, week, or month. Ask yourself; how many did I accomplish? What were the reasons for not reaching specific goals? How can I do better next time? Asking yourself these questions facilitates accountability and improvement.

Being accountable is a process that looks different for each person and can change with your goals. As an organization leader, aligning your actions with your goals is crucial. I hope that by implementing some of the strategies I shared, you and your organization will reach that next level. Suppose you find yourself in need of an accountability partner. In that case, I recommend joining my Facebook Group, which is full of other Nonprofit Enthusiasts looking to G.O. and GROW. Here’s the link to join: 

[i] “Accountability Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 

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