Leveraging Transparency

Posted Feb. 1, 2011 by Sari Burkes

News flash: the web is a transparent medium. Today more than ever, non-profits should be striving to act transparently to engender a sense of trust and accountability. So, it follows that non-profits should use the web to give donors, supporters and beneficiaries greater insight into how funds come in, and then where they go.

Many non-profits are already making use of the web for obvious matters such as sharing mission statements, objectives, services, upcoming events and of course, fundraising purposes. However, the extent to which non-profits accept the web as a means to act transparently is a fundamental piece of the equation, of the bigger picture.


GuideStar Analysis discovered that while 9 out of 10 non-profits are adopting on- line disclosure, there is still room for improvement, room to do more and room for change.


Non-profits want to build platforms that enable dialogue and interactions between supporters and individuals or communities attempting to get involved. Being transparent and authentic on-line are catalysts for inviting potential donors to take part in the cause.


So how can non-profits leverage the transparent nature of the web? Below are our 5 “golden rules” for ways non-profits can make the most of the web:


  • Be proactive: Participate in open dialogue, Questions and Answers, webinars; raise relevant topics, ask for help (That’s right! It is okay to ask for help; your target audience will appreciate it) and expose successes and challenges.
  • Share who you are: For example, GuideStar suggests including bios of board members and staff and making annual reports available. EXPOSE yourself: post pictures and videos of the latest Halloween bash, for instance, on your non-profit site or Facebook page.
  • Tell stories, don’t be shy: Bring to the surface the voices of the individuals and communities that your non-profit aims to help through storytelling and testimonials. For example, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic® , a non-profit that aims to bring accessible materials to individuals with visual and learning disabilities, is an example which has created on-line space for the stories and testimonials of the individuals they serve.
  • Create homemade videos: Share the culture of your workplace through posting videos of recent events, such as conferences, charities and office gatherings. Videos are also a powerful medium for storytelling.
  • Don’t hide behind slogans- be real!: What is your non-profit’s character? Leveraging the transparency of the web includes being real, candid and sincere. Let the world know who you are!


It is crystal-clear that non-profits are to welcome the technology of the web as a way to leverage transparency. After all, why not put the web to its best use?


How is your non-profit using the web to leverage transparency? We look forward to your hearing your thoughts! 

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