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Transparency, Trust and the “Worst Charities”

June 12, 2013

Everyone is talking about this spotlight on nonprofits that are failing to deliver on their charitable promises and obligations.

The public deserves to know how nonprofits are operating and whether they are properly using the funds with which they have been entrusted. This is what we mean by transparency.

However, one-sided negative media attention (without tribute to the many thousands of impactful and responsible organizations) can build public and donor skepticism about all charitable organizations.

As stewards of precious resources from the public, staff and board members of nonprofits are ultimately accountable to the public. Our jobs become more difficult when some organizations are not operating ethically.

These extreme and unfortunate stories serve as important reminders of the trust-building work that should be our priority every day on the job.

The Giving Partner and the other GuideStar DonorEdge tools around the country provide everyone with the opportunity to learn about a nonprofit’s financials, programmatic impact, strategies, board and staff leadership, needs, organizational success and history.

Access to this knowledge allows all of us to be smarter about our giving. But donors have to be armed with the right questions, seek the answers most important to them, and feel empowered in their decision-making. It is our job to make it easy for them to access these answers.

Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, was interviewed today by ABC7 WWSB in response to the story. She talked about the importance of tools like The Giving Partner to inform charitable giving decisions.

If your organization has taken the time to develop a profile in The Giving Partner and keep it up-to-date, it means that you believe in the power of transparency. You might consider forwarding a link to your organization’s profile to donors and supporters to showcase your accountability as an affirming response.

The commitment your nonprofit makes to transparency is one step forward in helping the public retain its trust in our sector’s important work. We’re all in this together.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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One Response to “Transparency, Trust and the “Worst Charities””

  1. Erin McLeod Says:

    Well said! Please thank Roxie on behalf of the ethical nonprofits doing the right things.


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