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[February 07, 2014]
New Guide Helps Funders Adopt a Transparency Mindset
(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) NEW YORK, Feb. 6 -- The Foundation Center issued the following news release: As funders face an increasing demand by the nonprofit sector, the public, and governments to be more transparent, a new GrantCraft guide released today in collaboration with Glasspockets provides practical advice for funders to publicly share various aspects of their operations, work, and knowledge. Opening Up: Demystifying Funder Transparency (
) presents real-world case studies that demonstrate the value of foundation transparency in strengthening credibility, improving grantee relationships, facilitating greater collaboration, increasing public trust, reducing duplication of effort, and building communities of shared learning. The guide joins a growing collection of resources published by GrantCraft, a joint service of the New York-based Foundation Center and Brussels-based European Foundation Centre that taps the practical wisdom of funders to develop free resources for the philanthropy sector.
"The research we conducted for this guide demonstrates that funders who openly communicate about their work are finding it to be a win-win strategy," said Jen Bokoff, director of GrantCraft at the Foundation Center. "Grantees, funding partners, the public, and philanthropy professionals themselves all benefit when foundations make their work and their knowledge broadly accessible." A commitment to transparency means a foundation is making available information on aspects of its work, including past grants awarded, the grantee selection process, performance assessments, and strategy documents. In addition to web sites, foundations are also employing social media, video, conferences, publications, and other media to share knowledge about their work. Funders profiled in the guide listed many benefits of transparency, such as gaining efficiencies in time, receiving better and more appropriate grant proposals, and increasing effectiveness based on feedback loops and greater awareness of peer efforts.
Other key insights in the report include: * Seventy-five percent of survey respondents reported observing an increased demand for funder transparency over the past five years.
* Numerous interviews with funders and an analysis of blog posts and survey responses indicate that true transparency comes down to a mindset, one in which funders believe they are most effective when they approach all aspects of their work by saying "let's publicly share this." * While transparency can be challenging for many reasons, including limited staff time and potential vulnerability, funders interviewed agree that sharing what they know and creating space for dialogue are essential to accelerating change.
The guide is divided into five sections, each of which addresses a key aspect of transparency: sharing grantee data, sharing performance assessments, improving relationships, improving the practice of philanthropy, and recognizing opportunities for connecting. Each section explores transparency with funder stories, a list of challenges, action steps, and discussion questions. The guide does not advocate for a "one-size-fits-all" approach, but rather, uses qualitative research to show how each foundation can determine a level of transparency for itself that is appropriate, beneficial, and part of an ongoing process.
The guide is based on an international scan of the field, and one of the real-life examples comes from South Africa: Jason Hudson, the Shuttleworth Foundation's chief information officer sums up its strategy as follows: "We have a mildly aggressive obsession with being transparent. We open up our financials and share our planning, learning, and relationships as we go along. It's not easy and, at times, quite uncomfortable, but by doing this, we hope to have partners who come with better ideas, offer improvements, and even run with things on their own. That's what we want." Opening Up: Demystifying Funder Transparency is complemented by online components, including podcasts (
) and the complete results (
) of the transparency survey. Knowledge tools (
) on the Foundation Center's newly-redesigned Glasspockets web site help foundations incorporate transparency activities into everyday practice, and an ongoing conversation can be found at the Transparency Talk (
) blog. The Glasspockets site is also home to a new video (
) that makes the case for foundations to be transparent, as well as an infographic (
) that reveals trends with foundations and social media.
Opening Up: Demystifying Funder Transparency and related resources were funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It can be downloaded for free at www.grantcraft.org/transparency.
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