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Nonprofit Transparency Is Hard Work, But Always Worth It

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Nonprofits rely on active donors and fundraisers to keep resources flowing in toward their charitable cause, and in return, supporters expect transparency from nonprofits about the allocation of donations.

Transparency matters for a nonprofit’s culture, because it builds trust between the organization and the public. Keeping the public in the loop leads to more education, greater outreach, faster solutions and a healthier performance overall. Most importantly, transparency shows that the nonprofit is continuing to focus on the cause it is dedicated to.

It’s hard for donors and fundraisers to question or negate open information that reveals the inner workings of an organization. When nonprofits are transparent in their online operations, they instill their fundraisers and donors with a sense of empowerment. That empowerment translates into organic reach, passionate support and ongoing fundraising. So, how can nonprofits promote transparency to their fundraisers and donors?

Promote candid conversations through social media

Encourage the public to ask tough questions of your staff and even board members. The Gates Foundation, for example, has set up an “Information Sharing Approach.” According to the foundation’s website, “By sharing high quality data, we and our partners can better understand the problems we are trying to solve while developing more efficient and effective strategies to overcome them.”

To keep in contact with supporters online, host regular Q&A or chats (on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit AMA, etc.) where anyone can throw questions at members of your team.

Over-deliver on the kind of access you give to the public. Becoming transparent is an emotional process. Access itself is not enough – staff must also commit time towards promoting transparency. Training is essential to making sure that everyone on your team can respond to criticism with grace and positive action.

Embracing transparency will help the public make educated decisions about who they support, while allowing your management team to make better, more balanced, decisions.

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