Grant Makers Applaud Transparency, but Most Don’t Practice It, Study Says

By Alex Daniels
Chronicle of Philanthropy
February 23, 2016

This article covers the recently released Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) report, “Sharing What Matters, Foundation Transparency”. In this report, CEP found that though foundation leaders indicate the importance of being transparent with the public and with other foundations, few actually live up to the ideal of full transparency.

A key roadblock, according to CEP, is a lack of staff time and money to devote to transparency and openness efforts.

The article goes on to summarize key findings from the report. It also gives voice to both sides of the debate, citing donor organizations that value privacy over openness and those who practice high levels of openness as standard operating procedure.

As the primary funder of the CEP report, the Fund for Shared Insight was cited as a key effort encouraging grantmakers to be more open with both grantees and other foundations.

Fay Twersky, co-chair of the Fund for Shared Insight and director of the effective philanthropy group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, made the case that foundations, which are tax-exempt, need to provide the public with a thorough understanding of their work.

“We have the privilege of being able to give away charitable dollars that benefit the common good,” she is quoted as saying. “There’s a moral imperative to be more open than the minimum legal requirement.”

The article concludes with guidance from Fay Twersky, who suggests that foundations looking to become more transparent start by examining how candid their staff members are with each other so they can “build the muscle” to open up to those outside.

Read the full article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (please note this article is only available to Chronicle of Philanthropy Subscribers)