“Mrs. Naidu your son is doing great work but we don’t know where the money is going,” remarked a lady. My mother was promoting my recent COVID19 online fundraising with her group. “Don’t worry all the money is going directly to the COVID19 nonprofit fund. My son is just supporting the cause and promoting it,” said my mother. Obviously she didn’t like the remark.
Transparency has been an issue that nonprofits have been battling. According to the India Giving Report 2019: “The top three things that would encourage people to donate more money, time or goods over the next 12 months are unchanged from 2017 – knowing for sure how their money would be spent (38%), more transparency in the NPO/charity sector (32%) and having more money themselves (30%).”
One of the reasons why people give money directly to people or families in need:
Earlier last week I shared 69% of nonprofits say the demand for transparency regarding funding has increased. One of the key findings from Salesforce nonprofit trends report 2020 - trends, challenges, and opportunities with technology.
Today, donors want to know more about what nonprofits are doing with the money. It’s not just about being transparent with data, but also how it is shared, and ensuring it is trustworthy and used ethically. To make this happen, requires a whole new level of data collection, goal setting, automation, and reporting.
Data can do wonders if we know what to mine and how to integrate to derive business results. The other way nonprofits have dealt with the whole transparency issue is by communicating online. The website is the starting point so I decided to take a look at how nonprofits are showcasing their transparency factor. In other words, how are they communicating how the funds are used and how seriously are they taking it.
I have randomly selected five nonprofits:
With a vision of “Bringing people together to end poverty for good,” nonprofit Children International has given key focus to accountability. The website has a section “Committed to transparency” on the homepage right after the sponsoring child option.
The nonprofit has listed four major categories and the first category “About Us” has ‘Accountability’ as the first option. Giving accountability as the top priority shows the seriousness of the nonprofit.
The page gives you detailed information about the various trust ratings that the nonprofit has acquired along with where the donation goes, and how the nonprofit has checks and balances in places so that the contributions are used effectively. To see the impact in person, the nonprofit has invited sponsorers to visit the community centers. With extended global lockdown, the nonprofit will have to review this option sometime soon.
There is a list of the annual reports, independently audited financial reports, and profit on Guidestar, the nation’s leading source of information about nonprofit organizations.
“The Trust” page part of the Accountability page gives you more information about the nonprofit and what makes it different from the rest. The page also holds testimonials from sponsors and their experiences.
Finally, the “See our Impact” category has a section “How Sponsorship works” that gives a complete picture of how child sponsorship works, how donor gift is invested, and details how one can start creating a personal bond with the children.
Children International takes accountability seriously and has shown intent in communicating with the world on its website.
Founded in 2009, Access Now defends and extends the digital rights of people around the world. The ‘About’ section talks about financials under the label ‘Funding’ showcases the list of grants, funder, and amount procured from 2010 to 2020.
In addition to this, the nonprofit provides a full picture of its approach to funding and fundraising. For more information, one can approach the organization via digital channels.
Access Now also provides a list of filters that it applies while accepting donations. The page also has the yearly Financial Statements and Federal Tax Returns. While it is encouraging but more clarity could be of use for terms like “Core organization support” or “Program Support”
The End Fund
The END Fund is a private philanthropic initiative to combat the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that, together, cause up to 90% of the NTD burden in sub-Saharan Africa.
With The End Fund, one can find the transparency factor sitting right on the hero image of the home page. 2019 Annual Report is a complete summary of what the nonprofit has achieved and how it did. Apart from the pdf report, the page also has a note from the CEO, 2019 Impact, and the highlights of the year.
Annual Reports page has a complete list of the yearly financials, audit reports, and five-year impact reports.
Founded in 1999, Goonj undertakes disaster relief, humanitarian aid, and community development in parts of 23 states across India. Goonj focuses on clothing as a basic but unaddressed need.
The “About US” category has a section of Annual Reports that gives a list of yearly reports. These reports give you a detailed overview of the different programs, the impact, the cobranded initiatives, and the complete details of the financials.
Founded in 1999, Magic Bus equips children and young people in the age group of 12 to 18, with the skills and knowledge they need, to grow up and move out of poverty.
“About US” category on the website has a Transparency as a section which is denoted as the heart of the nonprofit. Along with listing the transparency badge from GuideStar India, the nonprofit has shared yearly audited statements, yearly reports, and FCRA details.
Goonj does a better job of showcasing the annual reports and Magic Bus can learn more about transparency from Children International. Considering transparency is the heart of the nonprofit.
Transparency plays a key role in online fundraising. How you showcase it and to what level of transparency you dwell into is going to be a key differentiator. Someday I would like to see a nonprofit having an instant popup to showcase how transparent it has been over the years. Just like the majority of nonprofits ask for donations.