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For the past nine years, my husband and I have spent the winter months in Baja, Mexico. After 40 years in Alaska, we figure we can handle a few warm winters. One of the best things about my time here each year is taking long walks along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and actually spending time thinking (a rare commodity for any of us these days).
I decided, on my latest foray along the cliffs, to write a series of blogs focusing on the overarching themes that I feel are important for every nonprofit organization to know about and understand as we move into 2017.
For me, the overarching themes include
Let me share with you my thinking behind these themes and why they are important to you, whether you are an all-volunteer organization or one of the largest operating nonprofits in the nation.
Today's post focuses on the first theme.
Transparency issues have been a topic of discussion within the grantmaking world for a while now. Most of you already know about Glasspockets, a project of the Foundation Center.
The Foundation Center says, "A foundation that operates transparently is one that provides information about its work, operations and processes, and what it is learning in an open, accessible, and timely manner. For foundations operating in today's digital age, transparency also really means having a virtual presence in addition to a physical one so anyone can quickly learn what you do, why you do it, and what difference it makes in the world."
You can read more at http://glasspockets.org.
Transparency within the grantmaking world is clearly taking off. It isn't the norm yet, but progress is being made toward that goal. So, as more and more grantmakers adopt the transparency concept for their own organizations, won't they now begin to wonder about the transparency — or lack of — within the organizations that ask for their support?
My guess is yes.
Think of being transparent as simply being open about who you are and what you do. Once you start thinking this way, you will find many ways to demonstrate transparency, but let me offer just a few ideas to get you started.
Publish your mission statement front and center on your website, on all printed materials, and most importantly on all your grant applications. Personally, I like to use the mission statement as a transition paragraph between the statement of need and the project description.
Your mission statement is only relevant if your board and staff review it regularly. Make sure your board reviews your mission statement each year. The next step is to date stamp it, which adds credibility to the statement, as well as transparency. The date stamp usually appears at the end of the mission statement. For example: Board Reviewed - January 15, 2017.
Post your strategic plan on your website. Again, date stamp this document with the board approval date and add how long the plan has been in effect. You can include other pieces of information here to show transparency. Let's say the strategic plan was a result of a survey you did with your membership or with the clients you serve. You would want to state that and perhaps even link to the results of that survey.
And to add some accountability to the strategic plan, it's a good idea to update it regularly, demonstrating objectives accomplished, goals reached, etc.
I'm sure you can think of many other ways to make your organization transparent, not only for the benefit of grantmakers but also to demonstrate to the world what you do and how you do it.
This blog post was written by Cynthia M Adams, CEO, GrantStation.com, Inc. Check out part 2 and part 3 in the series.
Image 1: LDprod / Shutterstock
Image 2: Cynthia M Adams
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This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.