Foundations can increase transparency with Glasspockets

Transparency has been a common theme on Nonprofit Street over the last few weeks. In today’s economy, transparency is one of the elements that should be in place to build trust among your stakeholders.

JVA Consulting recently brought you the cautionary tale of Wyclef Jean’s Yele Foundation and offered some tips for strengthening your organization’s transparency. Now we’ve come across a new opportunity specifically for foundations to be more transparent.

Recently launched by the Foundation Center, www.glasspockets.org is a robust Web site that allows visitors to view information on all of the 97,000 U.S. foundations. Each foundation has a profile on the site, and it’s up to each organization to update their information—and it’s really easy to get started.

The online form has questions covering 22 transparency and accountability practices and six types of online communication vehicles. Together, these indicators provide a snapshot of a foundation’s “glass pockets.” Whether the information you upload reflects a success or a challenge is beside the point because transparency is key to increasing the credibility of your organization.

If you’re wondering where the name Glasspockets came from, the Web site explains the story:

“Indeed, this is the raison d’être of the Foundation Center, founded in response to McCarthy-era hearings in which Russell Leffingwell, then chair of the Carnegie Corporation, told congressional skeptics: “We believe the foundation should have glass pockets.”

Glasspockets also features foundation reports, news, links to social media and guest blogs. In particular, a quote from Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith in his blog post Transparency: One Size Does Not Fit All on the importance of transparency stands out:

“One thing seems certain: as the practice of philanthropy is being disrupted by the digital revolution, choosing not to be transparent is an option whose days are numbered.”

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