Do accounting disclosures help or hinder individual donors’ trust repair after negative events?

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to examine whether and how voluntary accounting disclosures can repair individual donors’ trust in a charity after negative events. Design/methodology/approach: The authors adopt a qualitative research approach and conduct 32 semi-structured interviews with active Australian individual donors, with a hypothetical vignette design. Hypothetical negative events and corresponding accounting disclosures are presented to participants during interviews. Findings: Three types of individual donors are identified based on their decision-making patterns after negative events and primary trust relations with a charity-reasoned donor (giving-decision based on their analysis of the situation, competence-based trust), generalist donors (giving-decision based on trust in the charitable sector, institution-based trust) and emotional donors (giving-decision based on feelings and emotions about the charity, integrity-based trust). The research suggests that accounting disclosures can repair trust damage for reasoned donors and support institution-based trust for generalist donors, but do not seem able to repair trust damage for emotional donors and can potentially damage trust further. Practical implications: Overall, the findings suggest that a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating with individual donors after negative events is not likely to be very effective in repairing trust. Instead, charities may need to adapt disclosures to their different types of individual donors. Originality/value: While prior accounting studies have largely focussed on how charity managers themselves grapple with accountability or how negative events impact charitable donations, the authors demonstrate how accounting disclosures can play different roles in the trust-repairing process for different types of individual donors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1078-1109
Number of pages32
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2023


  • Accountability
  • Charities
  • Trust damage
  • Voluntary disclosure

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