Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the concept of social responsibility within two community-based not-for-profit organisations in New Zealand, and to test the hypothesis that having a social agenda necessarily means being socially responsible. We adopted the methodologies of phenomenology and appreciative inquiry, and found that not-for-profit organisations believe social responsibility is embedded in their mission and activities, although they may not clearly state this in their public statements. We also found that not-for-profits consider financial accountability to be a central aspect of their social responsibility because of the trust they enjoy to use funds from the public to address society's ills. The challenge for not-for-profits is to develop evaluative frameworks that measure social responsibility.
The findings of this study underpin the importance of the not-for-profit sector developing measures of social responsibility to help guide and progress its own good practice. The rhetoric of mission statements alone does not constitute social responsibility. How organisations share power, how they dialogue with and empower clients and communities, the environmental consequences of their activities, and their human rights, ethical and employment practices are important elements of not-for-profit social responsibility.
Our study makes two key contributions. Firstly, we move the discourse about social responsibility beyond whether not-for-profits should be required to be socially responsible, to a critique of their activities and functions in order to ascertain the levels of social responsibility and how best they can fulfil their mandates in a socially responsible way. Secondly, by focusing on community-based organisations, this study seeks to build a better understanding of the concept of social responsibility by not-for-profits at the community level, where their impact is felt the most; it thus extends the discourse on social responsibility of not-for-profits, which has tended to focus primarily on large international organisations.
To cite this article: Chile, Love M and Black, Xavier M. What does the concept of social responsibility mean to not-forprofit organisations?: A case study of two community-based not-for-profits in New Zealand [online]. Third Sector Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, Jun 2015: 51-77.
[cited 25 Apr 17].