Access to information in today’s day and age is unparalleled; most anything we want or need to learn is available at the tips of our fingers, just a few taps on a laptop or cellphone away. We can learn that the population of Zambia is about 14.54 million; we can learn that Mercury takes about 88 days to orbit the sun, and we can learn that Bill Gates has a net worth of about $84 billion. All important in the grand scheme of things, no doubt, but what’s more important is the information readily available to all of us pertaining to the businesses around us–or at least, the information available in a best case scenario.
With this increased access to information, the necessity for businesses and high profile individuals to increase their level of transparency has risen. Unfiltered access to information about an organization can lead to a stronger public opinion and more fluid collaboration between businesses. While not all organizations are jumping aboard the transparency train, those who are have seen tangible benefits.
While we’ve heard the call this political season for transparency on behalf of those in politics, and we’ve heard people voice time and time again the necessity for big businesses to increase their levels of transparency to benefit both mankind and consumers, we often neglect the importance of transparency in the world of nonprofits.
Transparency becomes an issue when a lack of it leads to scandals like the one that rocked the Cancer Fund of America not long ago. The discovery that millions of donated dollars were being misused on personal items worked to effectively shut down the charity permanently. And on top of reflecting poorly on the charity itself, it called into question just how the funds were being used at other charities.
It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that people would be a bit more hesitant to donate their money immediately following a scandal of that magnitude–it’s been shown in the past that even seemingly reputable charities have had their fair share of issues with transparency and ethical dealings.
This is precisely why it’s so important that nonprofits around the globe open their organizations to the public as effectively as possible. A study done by Georgetown University found that charities who are open and honest with their operations could see a rise in donations. As an organization opens itself to the public, the public will begin to build trust, which, for a nonprofit, can make all the difference.