3. Marion Conway—Consultant to Nonprofit’s writes about, “Accountability and Transparency for nonprofits” and references Guidestar’s Accountability and Transparency article.
I followed this jewel this morning and ended up at Guidestar.org site reading their article, Paper-Thin Transparency. In that article Guidestar defines transparency as:
At GuideStar, we think transparency means answering these questions for donors and funders:
- Is this a legitimate 501(c)(3) nonprofit?
- What social impact will my donation have?
- How fiscally responsible is this organization?
- What are this organization’s goals and intentions?
Effective means that address these questions are to state publicly, clearly, and concisely your mission, annual accomplishments, ways you measure success, and goals.
Recently the nonprofit I volunteer at has been trying to articulate these goals in writing. Some large donors are particularly interested in this information. Unfortunately this effort drops down on the priority list for the working board members as the problems of running the nonprofit bubble up to the top of the list. The hard part is documenting the social impact. The words are easy to write.
Once you have words to say, a small part of the problem is making the data available to the public. The folks at Guidestar have a simple, low cost solution, eDocs Service. For a $35 annual fee you can keep upload:
- Letter of Determination or Advance Ruling
- Audited or Reviewed Financial Statement
- Annual Report
- Form 990(current)
This service looks pretty handy for large and small donors and the fee is nominal. I noticed that the latest 990 for my nonprofit at Guidestar is for 2003. That won’t do!