Transparency, in the non-profit sense, is defined as the widespread availability of relevant, reliable information about the performance, financial position, and governance of an organization.  Transparency is a trust building tool; the more transparent your organization becomes, the more trustworthy you will be viewed by the public, donors, and regulators.  It is important for non-profit organizations to clearly state their mission and communicate the outcomes of their actions to the outside world.  Most organizations do this by making their IRS Form 990 available to the public,D either on the organization’s website, or online through Guidestar, or both.  While providing access to an Organization’s 990 is important; the following are some additional tips to increase transparency:

  • Regularly update your website with current program information;
  • Post board and key staff members’ names, titles, and bios that highlight each person’s skills and contributions;
  • Post a copy of your annual report on your website, this can consist of highlights of your organizations achievements and services provided during the year;
  • Post a copy of any audited financial statements on your website;
  • Post a copy of the IRS letter of determination on your website.

Transparency is not as simple as just making your organizations information available to the public; each organization should consider how a donor chooses an organization that they want to donate to.  Some questions to ask are:

  • How important is it for a donor to get personal, public recognition for his/her generosity?
  • How often does a donor want to be contacted?
  • What are some doubts or worries that a donor may have about giving?
  • How important is it for a donor to know how their donations have been used?

Answering these questions can help an organization increase their transparency and hopefully build trust and in the end, donations.

For more information and to speak with one of our experts, please contact us so that we can discuss these steps and others that can be used by an organization to increase transparency.