The Case for Financial Transparency in Non-Profits

The greatest threat to the not-for-profit sector is the betrayal of public trust, the disappointment of public confidence.”

— Professor Joel Fleishman, Duke University

As the head of a large non-profit company, I have a significant responsibility to our stakeholders, including our government and philanthropic funders, our community partners, and our individual and corporate donors.  They have invested in us and we need to demonstrate that we use those dollars wisely, effectively and transparently.  As such, in 2015, Fedcap made the decision to publicly release our financial and programmatic results twice annually—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is smart business strategy. This level of transparency signals to our stakeholders that we are doing what we said we would do—spending money in smart and innovative ways to advance our mission.

In a recent article in the NonProfit Times, the author suggests that the more non-profit reporting practices mirror for-profit companies, the greater opportunities for partnerships with corporations. Examples might include a bank with an affordable housing nonprofit, a technology company and a non-profit focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, or a food retailer operating a soup kitchen.

Hank Boerner, chairman and co-founder of the Governance & Accountability Institute, recommended non-profit managers look over corporations’ sustainability reports for opportunities to align missions. “It’s about the survival and thriving of not-for-profits in today’s society with government cutting back,” he said. “Somebody has to pick up the slack and the business community knows it’s them.”

While emphasis on our mission is key to engaging the hearts and minds of our partners, demonstrating our financial and programmatic results is critical to maintaining those relationships.  Increasingly, savvy donors and investors of all types demand results.

On May 17, we will be releasing our first half-year financial and programmatic results for 2018. This process takes place via webinar and will attract participants from business, philanthropy, academia, government, and non-profit sectors across the country. Following our presentation, we engage participants in a Q&A session, intended to further expand their knowledge of our company.

Please join us as we openly discuss the current realities in the nonprofit business environment.