Transparency Talk

Category: "Open Data" (26 posts)

A Dash of Diversity and a Cup of Reality
December 15, 2015

(Dolores Estrada is director of grant operations at The California Endowment, a health foundation established in 1996 to address the health needs of Californians.)

Editor’s Note: In the near future, our “Who Has Glass Pockets?” transparency assessment will include an additional data element related to diversity. We will continue to track which foundations have values statements related to diversity and inclusion, and we will also be adding a transparency element indicating which foundations openly share diversity data about their staff and board.  Currently, relatively few foundations provide diversity head counts, with only 5 out of 77 profiled foundations sharing that data publicly.  The California Endowment recently completed and posted its annual Diversity Audit, so we invited its team to draft a series of posts explaining why and how they share this information. This is the second post in the series, and the first post appears here.

Estrada-150At The California Endowment (TCE), our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is strong.  It is driven by a fundamental belief that we cannot achieve our mission of improved health for Californians unless every segment of our community participates in advancing solutions.  This commitment to diversity created a guiding framework for our organization.  It also set the stage for what we now call an authorizing environment, which means permission to talk about and engage in diversity-related work with the Foundation as leverage.   This space also allows us to gather information on the governance, management, and staff composition of our community partners which, in turn, helps to ensure that TCE holds itself accountable to our diversity and inclusion goals. 

Timing, as they say, is everything. In 2010, TCE transitioned to our 10-year Building Healthy Communities (BHC) strategy.  The planning and implementation of BHC was the perfect time to embrace our values through meaningful collection and use of diversity data.  Our recipe for moving forward had a pinch of confidence, a dash of diversity, doused with a cup of reality. 

Over the course of the last five years, as the manager of grants administration, I have had the task of operationalizing our institutional values of diversity, equity and inclusion into our paperless grantmaking and grant administration.  Although The California Endowment has held to these values since inception, we needed clarity on the mechanics of how collecting data would help us with our mission.  We have the resources and technology to collect the data, but when diversity principles and values meet reality, it gets a little complicated.  We discovered that when it came to incorporating DEI practice in our grantmaking and grant administration, we knew the outcomes we wanted, but had no clear, easy recipe to get there.

Being an advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion has meant being prepared to embrace failure as a pathway for future success.  Promoting and practicing DEI is not simple.  It requires planning, patience, and a willingness to openly share and learn from our failures.  And boy have we shared a lot!

We started with voluntary applicant diversity data questionnaires attached to our online applications.  Our diversity questionnaire was crafted with care to ensure that we were using the correct terminology to capture the information we needed.  We asked for diversity information on the board of directors, executives, and staff of our grantee organizations and stored it in our grants database. 

Being an advocate of diversity, equity and inclusion has meant being prepared to embrace failure as a pathway for future success.

Bam!  Our first clue that something wasn’t working?  In a grouping of over 600 applications submitted less than 400 provided diversity data.  More importantly, the data points submitted didn’t make sense given what we knew about the grantees.  We decided to give the data collection process more time and see what happened. 

We considered the phrasing of the various questions, terminologies used, and online format as possible culprits.  Were those the reason for this data desert?  No, what we failed to do was to explain to our grantee organizations and community stakeholders why we were asking for diversity data and what we intended to do with this information.  In addition, we realized that we had assumed “everyone” had the data and did not factor in barriers or challenges that applicants might have in collecting this information themselves. 

Our team convened, determined to clearly communicate our values and goals and the importance of the data.  Our CEO, Dr. Robert Ross, then penned a message for our online applications and communicated our intent for collecting diversity data, stating: 

"The data collected will serve multiple purposes: to help us understand how we reflect the communities we serve, equip our staff with critical data to assistant nonprofits to better serve the needs of California's diverse communities and to track our progress with our Board and our grantees and communities."

For the next couple of months, our goal will be to create opportunities to learn, share and have open dialogue about DEI data pertaining to the foundation and that of our grantees organization wide.  Our benchmark for success is not about collecting data from everyone, but rather an understanding of how diversity data is incorporated into our grantmaking and allow us to engage our communities and partners in meaningful ways. 

A dash of diversity and a cup of reality make the best recipe for success.

Diversity at the Foundation: Important Enough to Measure
December 8, 2015

(Robert K. Ross, M.D., is President and Chief Executive Officer for The California Endowment, a health foundation established in 1996 to address the health needs of Californians.)

Editor’s Note: In the near future, our “Who Has Glass Pockets?” transparency assessment will include an additional data element related to diversity. We will continue to track which foundations have values statements related to diversity and inclusion, and we will also be adding a transparency element indicating which foundations openly share diversity data about their staff and board.  Currently, relatively few foundations provide diversity head counts, with only 6 out of 77 profiled foundations sharing that data publicly.  The California Endowment recently completed and posted its annual Diversity Audit, so we invited its team to draft a series of posts explaining why and how they share this information. This is the first post in that series.

Ross-150About seven years ago, our Board of Directors engaged in a conversation about the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion at our institution.  While we re-affirmed our allegiance to these values which was present at the inception of The California Endowment, we concluded that we needed to ratchet up the seriousness of our resolve.  The questions that arose: Are we, as a foundation, committed enough to this issue to measure and track improvement?  We have metrics for a range of equity indicators in our healthy communities work, Sons and Brothers program etc., and overall strategic plan, so why not on the matter of diversity in our operation and structure as a foundation?

So, off we went.  We resolved to create a tool to assess our progress, now known as the Diversity Audit.  In it, we committed to express the value of, and commitment to, diversity across a range of parameters at The California Endowment: on our Board, at the management level, among our staff, grantees of the foundation, as well as contractors, consultants, and even investment managers.  We wanted to be able to express our commitment to diversity-equity-inclusion no matter which aspect or element of the foundation one might encounter.

The process of creating, and then institutionalizing the Diversity Audit required the support and engagement of Board, management, and staff.  There is a saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” We pay particular attention to recruiting new board members and senior management who value diversity, equity and inclusion.  We look to them to ensure that this commitment lives beyond any one individual or position, and becomes engrained in the DNA of the culture of The Endowment.  While turnover is inevitable in any organization, we do not ever take this commitment as a given. 

Cal Endow Photo
We also required the support of a savvy, thoughtful partner to hold our organizational hand through the process, and we procured the services of SPR Associates to do so.  SPR worked with our staff to begin establishing the right kind of data collection and reporting platform; we needed our Human Resources, Grants Administration, Contracts Administration, Program and Learning Staff, and Investments team all in the boat.  Obviously it required us to embark on the business of asking grantees, contractors, and consultants for the right kind of diversity information – and in the right way.  We now have the diversity question being posed nearly every time we engage in a financial or business transaction.

Diversity Audit 2013 coverOur Diversity Audit, while focusing on tracking progress through metrics, should not be confused or mistaken with the use of quotas.  Simply put, we don’t have numerical goals that define “success” in the Diversity Audit.  But we do want to know whether we have an organization that reflects the range of diversity that the state of California – and the communities we serve – now boasts.  Can we look ourselves in the mirror and comfortably state that our commitment to diversity is at last maintained, and even improves over time?

The Diversity Audit has helped us strengthen the culture and authorizing environment to express our values through our policies, practices, processes.  We review its progress with our Board every three years.  We share both our successes and mistakes with the philanthropic field because we believe that our efforts and value can inform our sector’s learning.  Diversity is indeed an element of my performance measures as President & CEO.  And that’s the way it should be.

--Robert K. Ross

Grantmaker Transparency: The Dawn of a New Age in Philanthropy
November 16, 2015

(Aaron Lester is demand generation manager at Fluxx.  This blog post first ran in PhilanTopic.)

Aaron_lester_for_PhilanTopic"People tend to be private about love and money, and in philanthropy, it's both," says Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center.

It's only natural that, traditionally, philanthropy has unfolded behind closed doors. On the one hand, the freedom to make personal funding choices gives grantmakers the ability to stay above the fray, uninfluenced by both market and political pressures. On the other hand, it doesn't allow the public to understand, learn from, or think critically about philanthropy.

"Giving and charitable acts are such private, emotional transactions," says Suki O'Kane, director of administration at the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. "How do you come from such strong traditions of privacy and intimacy, and bring that out into the open?"

Where do things stand?

Indeed ­– how do we as a sector make the switch from a traditionally opaque business model to an enterprise that embraces more transparency? It all comes down to the following questions: What am I funding? Why am I funding what I'm funding? Is my funding making an impact? And perhaps most importantly, how do we improve?

How do we as a (philanthropic) sector make the switch from a traditionally opaque business model to an enterprise that embraces more transparency?

There is good news: transparency in philanthropy is happening, there's no denying it. In fact, it's well under way, with large foundations like Gates, Ford, and Getty, sharing their endeavors with the public, surveying their grantees (and sharing the results), and creating searchable grants databases. Still, transparency can be difficult.

As a grantmaker, you know that sometimes your investments fail, sometimes grantees don't perform the way you expected, and sometimes, despite your best intentions, you can't pull off a new initiative or program. "Philanthropy isn't venture capital," says Christine Maulhardt, director of communications and public affairs at the Blue Shield of California Foundation. "Big losses aren't typical in our sector. We want everything to work out perfectly."

Regardless of the perceived risks, transparency in philanthropy is here to stay. And yes, it can be scary and hard to figure out how to get started. But the rewards for embracing transparency far outweigh the risk of turning your back on it.

Time for Transparency ImageWhere are we headed?

 

As we look to the (not so distant) future, we're particularly excited about the potential for grantmakers and grantees alike to have the ability to track incoming evaluation data, to understand in real time their organization's short- and long-term impact, and to be able to respond to that data and take action to ensure continued progress.

In the past, there was no common language used to talk about impact evaluation. Now, for the first time, technology can help create that common language. It is possible for foundations to not only track their own progress toward a goal, but also to compare results with other groups working toward the same end. The intelligence learned creates a greater potential for real needle-moving impact.

Becoming Transparent: Best Practices

If your foundation is just beginning the journey toward greater transparency, Camarena has suggestions for working in league with your peers. First, there's no need to be revolutionary. "Rather than creating something custom for your foundation, really look across the field to some standard practices," she says. "When it comes to creating the application process, look at grants management systems that exist already, and look at taxonomy so that you're not inventing a language that won't make sense field-wide." Her key takeaways:

  • Look to other foundations for standard practices on transparency; don't reinvent the wheel
  • Take advantage of modern grants management systems to help guide your application process and to create a common taxonomy.
  • Join a regional association of grantmakers so you can network with your peers and share ideas, successes, failures, and best practices. If you're using a grantmaking solution, join the community of users.
  • Participate in field-wide movements like the Who Has Glasspockets initiative and Foundation Center's Get on the Map campaign.

As daunting as it may be to open your foundation's doors to the public, transparency has far more benefits than drawbacks. Not only will you be moving in step with a growing movement, you'll also be in great company. It's time we started to share the why and how of our giving. All of us stand to benefit.

--Aaron Lester

#77: Transparency Talk Welcomes the VNA Foundation to Glasspockets
October 14, 2015

(Melissa Moy is special projects associate for Glasspockets.  For more information, visit Foundation Center’s Who Has Glasspockets, and learn about VNA Foundation and the other foundations.)

Vna-foundationIn late September, the VNA Foundation joined our growing collection of “Who Has Glass Pockets?” (WHGP) profiles, which serve as both an assessment tool and a demonstration of a foundation’s commitment to transparency.  VNA became the 77th foundation to join WHGP. 

We thought it would be helpful to use our Transparency Talk blog as a way to introduce our audience to the newest foundation participant, and point out some of the interesting ways in which this Chicago-based foundation that supports healthcare for the underserved is employing innovative methods in how they communicate grantmaking and open up the work of philanthropy.

VNA Foundation, established in 1890 as the Visiting Nurse Association of Chicago, supports nonprofit organizations offering home- and community-based health care to the medically underserved.

About its Glasspockets participation, VNA states on its website: “We believe that foundations need to understand the value of transparency, be more open and clear in our communications, and highlight how the philanthropic sector partners with its grantees to serve the public good.”

"We believe that foundations need to understand the value of transparency, (and) be more open and clear in our communications."

The grantmaking process, from what a successful proposal looks like to what to expect when a funder says they want to meet with you, is often shrouded in mystery—but not at VNA.  The website features an informative prospective grantee area that not only shares the grantmaking process but reaches a high bar in transparency by sharing complete grant applications of successful proposals in addition to providing helpful insights into the foundation’s grantmaking process and its expectations from a site visit.  VNA also has an open invitation for grantees to highlight their work via the VNA Foundation’s YouTube channel.

VNA also shares contextual and historical information about its current and past special initiatives, and includes links to 14 years of its annual reports, an unusually comprehensive report collection.    

Additionally, VNA provides a unique and interactive infographic that discloses a great variety of grantmaking information in a very user-friendly format.  In the infographic, VNA openly shares geographic and financial information, as well as diversity data about its grantmaking in Chicago, from the city to the suburbs. 

Infographic data highlights include:

  • Grant overview & total grantmaking
  • Grant demographics by population, gender and ethnicity
  • Types of medical services and service settings among grantees
  • Types of grant support

Additionally, VNA’s infographic details what its grantees have learned, which may be helpful for other service organizations wanting to build on the work, while also providing other healthcare funders and grantees with helpful knowledge about their shared field.  For example, one grantee shared new and unforeseen challenges in light of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.  Although the expansion has provided more people with insurance, the number of clinics and providers has not grown to meet the demand.

Does your foundation have glass pockets?  Please take our "Who Has Glass Pockets" assessment.  Your foundation could be #78!

--Melissa Moy

Glasspockets Find: The Getty Foundation Launches Its New Grants Database
July 8, 2015

(Eliza Smith is the special projects associate for Glasspockets at Foundation Center-San Francisco.)

ElizaThe Getty Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the country, has created an online grants database covering its 30-history of grantmaking. This means that you can search every single grant the foundation has awarded since the J. Paul Getty Trust established the foundation in 1984: 6,751 grants to 3,259 grantees totaling $367,562,578, and counting. Now we can watch the count go up, and see where the money’s going.

The database has lots of filters for searching. You can explore by tags, such as grantee name, amount awarded, date of award, and location of the project. Each entry is also linked to the foundation initiative and to the grant project title/description. For data and transparency geeks like us over here at Glasspockets, this is a gold mine!

GFdnLogoThe foundation’s database isn’t just a great example of transparency, it’s a great tool. Imagine the benefits for hopeful grantees: they can look at similar organizations and see if Getty has given them funding. As we’ve noticed at Foundation Center since we helped launch the Reporting Commitment (in which Getty is also a participant), when foundations share grants data in real time, the benefits are innumerable. Our sector becomes less siloed, stakeholders have a better understanding of what grantmaker priorities look like in practice, and valuable historical information is at the ready in a collective knowledge base.

--Eliza Smith

Webinar TOMORROW: The PDF is the Enemy
December 1, 2014

Pdf-enemy-icon1Join us tomorrow—Tuesday, December 2, 1:00pm EST—for the Communication Network’s webinar, The PDF Is the Enemy. Speakers include Amy Ngai, partnership and training director at the Sunlight Foundation, and Foundation Center presenters,  Janet Camarena, director of  the Center's San Francisco regional office and leader of the Glasspockets initiative, and Gabi Fitz, director of the Center’s knowledge management initiatives and co-founder of IssueLab.

Presenters will weigh in on the shortcomings of this file format, which because it “locks” content, is not conducive to data sharing or usability. The program will also demonstrate how to make PDFs more usable and reasons why we should share, make open, and reuse data in the social sector.

This webinar is the second in the Communication Network’s Open Data for the Social Sector series. Please register here. The webinar will last an hour and is free. 

Glasspockets Find: The Gates Foundation Opens Up to Accelerate the Pace of Change
November 21, 2014

(Janet Camarena is the director of the Foundation Center's San Francisco office and leads the Center's Glasspockets effort.)

6a00e54efc2f80883301a3fd038242970b-800wiThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has just announced that it is adopting an Open Access Policy, which will enable the unrestricted access and reuse of all peer-reviewed published research funded by the foundation, including any underlying data sets. This is notable because though foundations fund and directly generate knowledge creation in their respective fields of practice, they often lack clear policies or practices governing their use. And, in many cases, it becomes copyrighted and filed away, rather than added to a growing body of shared evidence that would advance creating solutions and the field as a whole.

This announcement is also notable because it demonstrates that even the largest foundation in the world can’t tackle the problems it wants to solve alone. By sharing its knowledge openly, the Gates Foundation invites others to build on lessons learned and avoid duplication of effort.

6a00e54efc2f80883301b8d0998501970c-120wiAfter all, any funder who purports to be outcomes-oriented, and particularly those working in the data-driven fields of science and medicine, understand that philanthropy handicaps itself when it keeps what it learns to itself. As the blog announcing its launch explains, "...virtually every major breakthrough in science and medicine has stemmed from the principles of experimentation, observation, measurement, and analysis." It is exciting to consider the potential of how taking this kind of "shared learning lab" approach to philanthropy could serve to accelerate change faster than funding alone can do.

The Gates Foundation is not the first foundation to create an Open Access Policy, but it is something only a very few currently have. Perhaps the scale, influence, and visibility of Gates announcing this direction will truly lead to a shared body of collective intelligence from which we can all build; because if knowledge is power, then only through knowledge sharing can we fully harness that power in service of the public good.

-- Janet Camarena

Sharing What We've Learned: Evaluation Spending
May 5, 2014

(Fay Twersky is Director of the Effective Philanthropy Group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.)

Twersky-150“We are conducting a scan of foundation practices so that we can inform our own efforts about… Would you be willing to talk with us about your foundation practices?” Fill in the blank. It might be about foundation strategy development, due diligence practices, grant monitoring, grantee relationships, board materials, evaluation practices, organizational learning approaches, and the list goes on. Several times each week, I receive this kind of request from other foundation colleagues or from the consultants they hire. I have also made these calls myself and commissioned many such scans from consultants. The results of these efforts can be useful and informative. They can give us new ideas and useful benchmarks.

The problem is that these scans are rarely shared. There are lots of reasons given for why—“it was just a quick scan,” “it was just for internal purposes,” “It would take too much time to verify all of the information and we just wanted to get a directional sense of the field.” And so forth. All of these are real reasons. I’ve even used a few of them myself over the years. But I’ve come to think that it is a bad habit we have developed in the foundation world and that we all lose out because of this bad habit. We lose the ability for accumulated knowledge, for benchmarking practices, and for catalyzing dialogue about how foundations work and why.

I am trying to break the habit. I am going to try to share the information I gather in the scans I conduct or commission at the Hewlett Foundation, beginning with this brief scan we conducted to benchmark spending on evaluation. Last year, our Board asked how much should we be spending on evaluation. It was a reasonable question. As I was preparing to answer the question, I wanted to draw on the latest benchmarking data for evaluation spending. Only there was none. The last published spending benchmark was several years old, published by the Evaluation Roundtable in 2010 using data from 2009. And the evaluation world was changing rapidly. Many more foundations were building evaluation functions and I wanted more recent data.

So I conducted my own brief scan, contacting colleagues who lead strong evaluation functions and asked them about their spending levels. I incorporated those benchmarks as points of comparison and folded it into additional analysis that we conducted with the Hewlett Foundation’s own data, and prepared a memo to answer our Board’s question. As part of our November 2013 board meeting, we had a discussion about how much we should be spending on evaluation, and the Board endorsed our recommendations.

I am sharing a distillation of this memo. The memo is not perfect. The scan is not comprehensive. My colleagues offered all sorts of caveats about the information they provided. But it was useful for us. And I share it now in case it is useful for others.

-- Fay Twersky

A Gender Data Revolution
April 7, 2014

(Yinebon Iniya is manager, International Data Relations at the Foundation Center.)

Iniya-150With today’s technology, the public’s appetite for transparency and tracking outcomes has only increased. There is a growing demand for philanthropic players with specific interests in health, education, art, and human rights to provide metrics that show progress, especially in a world that is looking beyond the Millennium Development Goals, to the post-2015 Development Agenda. The Foundation Center, which continues to increase its data on global organizations, understands that the key to progress is to cultivate partnerships that help us do more than just acquire grantmaker data. Partnerships help us understand and frame key issues, providing us with unique opportunities to collaborate effectively and create ideas together.

In some cases, these collaborations become a web site, such as WASHfunders, which the Foundation Center created with seeding funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as a one-stop shop for funding and needs-related data and information for donors, policymakers, and stakeholders interested in water, sanitation, and hygiene. Another example is BMAfunders, a project of the Open Society Foundations and the Foundation Center that facilitates engagement, collaboration, and strategic decision making in the field of black male achievement.

But what about gender-related issues? Data 2X, announced in 2012 as a partnership between the UN Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the U.S. Government, and the office of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has the following goals:

To advance gender equality and women’s empowerment and further global economic and social gains through improved data collection and analysis that can guide policy, better leverage investments and inform global development agendas.

Data 2X created a report that identifies five key gender-related areas that need to be addressed: health, education, economic opportunity, political participation, and human security. The report suggests improving data collection by compiling information from various sources, including micro-level surveys, administrative records, and census data. The report also mentions that big data and mobile technology can fill many of the gaps in collecting information such as access to financial services, distance traveled for work, remittances, and connections with others while working away from home.

Earlier this month in New York City, Data 2X helped organize a roundtable discussion, New Strategies for a Gender Data Revolution, which consisted of two panels from statistical organizations that delved into these issues. The first panel featured Mayra Buvinic of the UN Foundation Data 2X team, Marcia Quintslr of Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, Ola Awad of Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and Lina Castro of the Philippine Statistical Authority.

One key challenge is to empower users—from women to governments, policymakers, foundations, NGOs, local organizations, universities, and other statistical organizations—to utilize the data in ways that benefit them.

The second panel included Pali Lehohla of Statistics South Africa, Imelda Musana of Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Félix Vélez Fernández Valera of the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI), and Neil Jackson of the Department for International Development (UK).

While each member made their points about new data collection and compilation, there was an acknowledgement about the existing data that could help provide additional answers. Ms. Bulvinic stated that the emphasis was really on the data quality, availability, openness, efficiency, and usability.

Mr. Lahola was jovial yet frank as he recounted a story analyzing the unfairness of something as simple as the bathroom sizes between men and women, and he used that as a basis to make his point about unconscious biases that exist, possibly distorting the understanding of statistics.

The most resonating comment of the afternoon was made by Ms. Musana, who indicated that while Uganda collects gender-related data, it is important to know the eventual outcome of data collection and how it is being used. She cited that in some cases they run statistical reports just because they are asked to—although she noted considerable progress has been made in data compilation.

All the panelists agreed that many gaps remain; some of the speakers added that one key challenge is to empower users—from women to governments, policymakers, foundations, NGOs, local organizations, universities, and other statistical organizations—to utilize the data in ways that benefit them.

The discussion was chaired by Ruth Levine, director of the Global Development and Population Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, who indicated that it was imperative to get input from the primary producers of economic and social statistics, and it is important for them to have the capacity to initiate and sustain their programs.

Will these ideas lead to a web site dedicated to gender-related issues—similar to the web sites for WASHfunders and BMAfunders? Judging from the conversation at this event, it is long overdue.

-- Bon Iniya

Glasspockets Find: New E-Book About Making Sense of Data
January 14, 2014

(Rebecca Herman is special projects associate for Glasspockets at the Foundation Center-San Francisco.)

Herman-150Markets For Good’s e-book Selected Readings: Making Sense of Data and Information in the Social Sector, is a compendium of blog posts from the past 15 months that hits on many hot topics—including transparency. Although that seems like a relatively short time, it’s useful to look back on this period and see how the conversation on data continues to evolve quickly and ripple through various sectors of civil society.

Transparency and openness are recurring themes in several thought-provoking blog posts featured in the e-book, including Laura Quinn’s In Search of Better Data About Nonprofits’ Programs, first published in April 2013. In her Author Update for the post, Quinn writes:

“Since the publication of this blog post, the problem of blaming nonprofits for lack of transparency has only gotten worse, with a substantial amount of conversation about “effective” and “data-based” philanthropy. It’s hard to argue the premise that donors and foundations should try to give money to those nonprofits most likely to be able to use it effectively. The weak link in this chain of logic is the assumption that the burden should be on the nonprofits to show their own effectiveness.”

Markets for Good-eBook-Cover-230Issues related to transparency and NGOs are raised in Anne Hand’s Notes from the Field: Mexico and Social Sector Data, and, in the post 3 Reasons Open Data Will Change the World: A Real-Time View, Ben Hecht argues there is the great potential in data-driven government initiatives, which are based on a commitment to greater transparency and open data in the civil sector.

One of the most in-depth looks at timely issues in transparency is Put Your Data Where Your Mouth Is, in which David Bank, Co-Founder and Editor of ImpactIQ and ImpactSpace, writes about his quest to cover impact investing: “If it was hard for me to track “impact” deals, how could impact investors themselves?” Bank also notes:

“Transparency is needed across the capital spectrum, but one area is particularly ripe for openness: the new class of start-up entrepreneurs mixing technology, emerging markets, and new financing mechanisms to disrupt business as usual in food, water, health care, education, energy, and even sanitation.”

In Divining a Vision for Markets for Good, Arthur “Buzz” Schmidt specifically addresses the need for greater foundation transparency. in the section on “An Alternative Vision for the Philanthropy Ecosystem”:

“We have not succeeded to date because we have not accounted for the complexities and contrary economies of philanthropy as it exists today. We are attempting to interject creative online methods into a philanthropy ecosystem that does not yet value, promote, and reinforce the importance of information, consistency, or effectiveness.”

And he goes on to envision a possible future that raises our hopes: “Institutional donors will be accountable, consistent, transparent, intentional, and demanding in their philanthropy. Communities will articulate common objectives and track collective progress. Nonprofits will report consistently about their own objectives and institutional progress. Resources will be directed to organizations that best meet society’s evolving needs. Superior social and environmental progress will result and our liberal democracy will be strengthened.”

MarketsForGoodlogoMarkets for Good’s e-book reminded me that transparency, data and openness are issues that are of central concern to an incredibly broad range of nonprofits, government, social entrepreneurs, investors and international organizations—and we can learn more by widening our gaze beyond the philanthropic sector. The e-book offers practical views of tackling particular data issues, but it also provides an informative sampling of how different groups within the social sector are thinking about data and transparency today.

-- Rebecca Herman

Share This Blog

  • Share This

About Transparency Talk

  • Transparency Talk, the Glasspockets blog, is a platform for candid and constructive conversation about foundation transparency and accountability. In this space, Foundation Center highlights strategies, findings, and best practices on the web and in foundations–illuminating the importance of having "glass pockets."

    The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation Center.

    Questions and comments may be
    directed to:

    Janet Camarena
    Director, Transparency Initiatives
    Foundation Center

    If you are interested in being a
    guest contributor, contact:
    glasspockets@foundationcenter.org

Subscribe to Transparency Talk

Categories