Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Fall 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Interdisciplinary Studies in Community Development and Nonprofit Organization

First Advisor

Jude P. West

Second Advisor

Helen A. Schartz

Abstract

This study evaluated one important dimension of nonprofit self-regulation, the relationship between the Iowa Register of Accountability and voluntary website disclosure by Iowa nonprofits. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of self-regulation in Iowa to improve accountability as measured by voluntary website disclosure and transparency. As part of the study, an instrument was developed to reliably measure nonprofit website disclosure and transparency. The disclosure score ratings from Iowa Register of Accountability nonprofit organizations were compared to those not listed on the Register. Other factors relevant to disclosure and transparency (e.g. the method to become listed on the Iowa Register of Accountability and the type and number of organization staff members who received training) were also tested.

Results indicated that nonprofit organizations listed on the Iowa Register of Accountability were more likely to have active websites and to voluntarily disclose recommended information on their websites than those Iowa nonprofits that have not sought or achieved listing on the Register. In particular, the Register group had statistically higher mean disclosure scores in four areas (Key Staff, Strategic Plan, Annual Reports, and Audit and Financial Statements) compared to the Non-Register group. Contrary to expectations, the method to become listed on the Iowa register of Accountability and the type and number of staff members who received training were not related to higher disclosure scores.

The important finding of this research is that nonprofit organizations listed on the Iowa Register of Accountability were more likely to voluntarily disclose recommended information on their websites than those Iowa nonprofits that have not sought or achieved listing on the Register. Recommendations are made in terms of ways to improve nonprofit website disclosure and transparency by enhancing and expanding training opportunities. A major contribution of this study for future research in the field was the development of a disclosure scoring instrument to assess and compare website disclosure and transparency.

Keywords

Accountability, Disclosure, Nonprofit, Self-regulation, Transparency, Website

Pages

ix, 126 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 96-102).

Copyright

Copyright 2010 Jill Kay Smith

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