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Communicating the Impact of the Global Financial Crisis in Annual Reports: A Study of Australian NGOs


Australian Accounting Review

Published online on


This paper analyses the extent and nature of communication by Australian non‐governmental organisations (NGOs) about the impact of the global financial crisis (GFC). NGOs need to balance their communications about financial need against news that could potentially reflect negatively on stakeholders’ impressions of their worthiness to receive funding. Recognising this, we content analyse the annual report narratives of 10 Australian NGOs for information about the impact of the GFC and their use of impression management (IM) techniques. All NGOs in the study experienced some financial impact from the GFC, with nine referring to it in their annual report narratives. However, the information was very limited, indicating a missed opportunity to communicate meaningfully with stakeholders. Further, of the nine NGOs providing disclosures about the GFC's impact, eight used at least one IM technique, indicating a lack of transparency that has potentially negative implications for trust‐building with their stakeholders. This study focuses on a limited number of NGOs, but further research could broaden this approach to examine organisations in the broader not‐for‐profit (NFP) sector, other modes of communication or communication patterns at other times of crisis, and currently, in an era of austerity.