Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency

Publication date: 
March, 2016
The Center for Effective Philanthropy

Transparency has become a buzzword in our society, but, in philanthropy, it’s not always clear who the audiences for information are—or what is meant, exactly, by the word. 

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) examined the perspectives of foundation CEOs and learned that there is much agreement on the audiences for their transparency efforts. Foundation CEOs also agree about what they believe is the most important information to share with those audiences.
Foundation CEOs’ views on transparency, which largely match those of grantees, focus on the substance of their work, as opposed to financial disclosures or governance practices. However, foundation practice lags behind CEOs’ beliefs, especially in the area of sharing information about what works.
The researchers drew these conclusions from analyses of surveys of 145 independent and community foundation CEOs, a review of more than 70 foundation websites, and surveys of more than 15,000 grantees.
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