Positive reputations shape trust in charitable work. Information or misinformation can form a charity's reputation. If the information is genuine and promising, it can increase public trust in the charity. Donors make steady giving decisions based on transparent and true information. A transparent charitable organisation clearly shows steps it takes between its fund and the goals it aims to achieve. This is how it can raise its credibility and accountability, and earn lasting trust.
Transparency requires answerability: to provide clear reasoning for actions and decisions. It also includes compliance through the monitoring and evaluation of procedures and transparency in reporting of outcomes. A transparent charitable organisation collects and publicly shares accurate financial and operational records. It makes them available for review and scrutiny by funders, beneficiaries, and others.
We live in a time surrounded by unlimited online information. Presence is almost synonymous with an online presence. Without an online presence, accessibility becomes limited. But, it remains a challenge to make sure how true and transparent online public information is. Online availability is the precondition for widespread accessibility. Yet, providing access does not itself make something transparent. The mechanisms for information disclosure can determine the level of transparency and accountability.
There are missteps in disclosing transparent information in nonprofits. Lack of regulation on disclosure of the information is among the reasons. Also, bureaucracy, high costs, and lack of guidance on what and how to disclose are noted as obstacles.
Agencies such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar help with disclosure of financial statements. Their aim is to elevate support to nonprofits that value those accountability standards. There is an increase in the number of charitable initiatives in the world in response to the growing need for social change. This means the need for more smart tools to promote openness is also growing. Tech-tools that enable external audits, evaluations, and assessments are key factors in obtaining transparency. They encourage internal controls, and feedback mechanisms for better performance. Such disclosures, assessments, and reports function as great accessibility tools. They display how organisations are open to learning and can lead to developing vital skills for effective performance.
Online information communication technologies are important enablers and accessibility tools. The coronavirus pandemic showed the world how these tools can be the only way to maintain access. They make efficient and effective communication beyond borders possible. This is how Kinder envisions the future of philanthropy.
How Kinder fixes this problem
Kinder streamlines a free online tool to promote information transparency. It does so by encouraging charitable organisations to improve their virtual presence. We act as an enabling mechanism, not only asking organisations to learn but also practice openness. Kinder continues to showcase transparent organisations that strive for making positive changes. We are talking about organisations that are open to openness. Those that take part in making the charity world more transparent.
From organisational skills to impact
Global inequality is on the rise. The size of social sector services can hardly keep up with the extent of our world’s societal needs. This means optimising the performance of existing services is of utmost importance. Such that the capacity of current initiatives is not wasted nor compromised. Measuring impact cannot be done without knowing what to measure. It needs performance systems to build, and align multiple demands for accountability. Effective performance requires explicit operating models. Models that show how resources are used and connect strategy to results for final impact. It also means reaching operational, programmatic, or organisational maturity. These are essential elements for an organisation's capacity building.
All charitable organisations have operating models but they are not always explicitly defined. They often know where and how critical work gets done when they think about their goals. But, the links between operating models with the choices of the organisations are not always clear. When not clear, organisations have less control over the steps of their work. They can get unclear from planning to intervention and outcome. Strong organisations, ones that make intentional and educated choices about their operating models, seek to get the right information and skills. They ensure they can connect their planning to execution. They keep track of their assumptions and check for their validity. They do so all the while keeping an eye on unexpected factors to secure their desired impacts.
What Kinder does
The logic behind Kinder’s Charity Zone (CZ) is to promote better performance. The Kinder CZ platform is not designed as a mere tool for showcasing success. It is to show how organisations follow the journey when striving for success. We are taking fundamental steps to help organisations strengthen their operational skills. We do so while encouraging them to also increase their level of transparency. We are firm believers in a robust operational foundation. We tell organisations to get clear about their logical frameworks and performance models. The aim is to help them become equipped with reliable skills for better impact. Kinder studies the operational skills of organisations. It draws the attention of the studied organisations to the quality of their skills. It reminds them this is for achieving better success.
We do not see the relationship between operational skills, effective performance, and high impact as a linear one. We acknowledge that social impact is often difficult to measure and quantify. We are aware of impact measurement complexities. We realise the challenges charitable organisations face to prove their accountability. From collection and compilation of strategy and program data to report their impact. We also recognise there are challenges that donors face to confirm organisations’ accountability. These can be due to a lack of evidence and knowing when or if demanding impact measurement is right.
By using what we have learned we aim to do our part in easing the above challenges. We do so by continuing our collaboration with charitable organisations. To hear more about our next steps, stay with us.
Call for action
If you have made it to this part of the article, it is possible that you are concerned about the concept of trust. You may be worried about rising global inequality or injustice in the distribution of social or economic resources. Whatever emotion you are harboring, I would like to think of you as a responsible world citizen. If you are someone who is willing to take part, here is how Kinder can help you elevate your philanthropic action. If you are a charitable organisation, you can join us here. Check and showcase your transparency and gain insight for better performance prospects. Let's come together and move towards building better trust and the realisation of the premise for a kinder world.
This article was written by Behdokht Hosseini, PhD, Head of Research & Development at Kinder. "Having a long-term curiosity for understanding human brain as the most sophisticated thinking entity, Behdokht did her Master and Doctorate in Neuroscience. Now at Kinder, she continues to have her quest for what makes humans impactful in their actions and interactions towards a more compassionate world"