Here’s an exciting new possibility for funders in Aotearoa NZ – we can now be assessed and accredited on how transparent and accountable we are by the US-based Glass Pockets initiative. And, having just been through this with our small philanthropic trust Te Muka Rau, I can attest that the process is useful, easy – and free. Here’s more info:
- What is funder transparency? Funder transparency simply means being open and upfront about who we are, what we do and how our funds are spent. There’s more detail on this in one of my previous posts, “how to be a transparent funder”.
- What is the process for becoming transparent? I recommend the following approach:
- First, check out the New Zealand version of the transparency guidelines, and then take the self-assessment test. These were created by Philanthropy NZ with the help of PNZ members and Glass Pockets. Our Aotearoa funder transparency guidelines are designed for NZ philanthropic organisations, but are also sufficiently aligned with the US funder transparency guidelines to enable sensible comparisons.
- Then, have a conversation, ideally at board level, about whether your score in the transparency self-assessment is appropriate for your organisation, and to what degree you would like to improve this. In general, more transparency is expected from large and/or statutory fouundations.
- Next, undertake the improvements required to increase transparency. Most of these are likely to be simple changes and additions to your website, although bigger funders may sometimes need to develop (or borrow and adapt) policies in some areas.
- Finally, when you are happy with your score, submit your profile to Glasspockets or have a conversation with Janet and the Glasspockets team.
- Which funders should get on the transparency journey? In my opinion, all funders in Aotearoa NZ should be appropriately transparent. This is particularly important for statutory trusts which are responsible for public funds, but any organisation receiving tax benefits should be able to show how they are serving the public good. Luckily, this isn’t hard to do.
- What is involved in becoming accredited as a transparent funder? For Te Muka Rau, the NZ transparency self-assessment showed that we needed more detail on who we are and how our funding works; also we needed to provide direct links to statutory and financial information on the Charities Services website. We then submitted our profile to Glass Pockets, who requested a few more changes, eg trustee affiliations and a simple grantee feedback mechanism. And actually both processes were easy – maybe a day’s work all up thinking things through and tweaking our website. I particularly appreciate that this is not a one-size fits all approach – both the NZ guidelines and the US accreditation process take into account what is appropriate for the size of the organisation.
So, who else wants to be part of the funder transparency movement? I’m a fan – and I’m happy to be a sounding board for anyone undertaking the transparency journey.