The accountability of advocacy NGOs: insights from the online community of practice

Galina Goncharenko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advocacy non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play an important role in society by keeping in check the power of corporations and governments and uncovering rights violations. They differ from other NGOs in terms of their agenda, funding structure and the stakeholders they serve, and operate in a context characterised by increasing demands for transparency, accountability and responsible advocacy. This study examines how the accountability agenda of advocacy NGOs is shaped by the need to maintain independence, preserve values and keep reputation unsullied when faced with financial and legitimacy pressures. A netnography method is employed to analyse the discussions taking place in the NGOs’ online community of practice to understand the implications of the accountability challenges faced by advocacy NGOs through the perceptions of NGO professionals. The study reveals that the accountability agenda of advocacy NGOs is determined by the interrelated threats of financial vulnerability, potential loss of independence, legitimacy challenges and the high level of public scrutiny. The findings highlight that imperfect accountability mechanisms (e.g. financial reporting and performance management systems) hinder the ability of advocacy NGOs to demonstrate their accountability. HIGHLIGHTS Advocacy NGOs face the highest level of accountability demands among non-profits. Financial vulnerability and independence threats are the main accountability drivers. Complexities in performance management hinder signalling NGOs accountability. Netnography permits to explore perceptions of advocacy NGOs' practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-160
Number of pages26
JournalAccounting Forum
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019


  • accountability
  • Advocacy NGOs
  • netnography
  • online community of practice


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